Current issues

CFA regional training centres


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EPA is continuing to regulate environmental impacts caused by CFA’s historical training activities and use of firefighting chemicals at its regional training centres across Victoria. PFAS was a common ingredient of some firefighting foams in the past but has not been used by CFA since 2007.

EPA established an initial working group from across government to oversee testing of the waterways, drains and groundwater that could be affected by contamination, particularly focusing beyond the boundary of training facilities. EPA now leads the regulation of CFA’s site rehabilitation and ongoing environmental monitoring.

EPA advises that offsite testing and investigation has been undertaken, confirming that reticulated (mains) drinking water supplies in surrounding communities are safe to drink and six of the CFA training centres are safe to continue to operate. The Fiskville Training College was closed in March 2015. The risk to people’s health and the environment from any contamination is very low and work is continuing to develop and maintain best-practice management controls at each site.

CFA regional training centres (RTC)

Map of CFA regional training centres in Victoria

Latest update for each site: Penshurst | Bangholme | Wangaratta | Huntly | Fulham | Longerenong | Fiskville

All local water authorities and key stakeholders, including neighbours and local reference groups established for each site, have been briefed on the environmental assessments completed to date and are satisfied with the management controls in place.

Please call the EPA hotline on 1300 372 842 (1300 EPA VIC) or visit our website for further information.

Background to the investigation

Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) was a common ingredient of some firefighting foams in the past but has not been used by CFA since 2007. Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and the related chemical PFOA are types of PFAS.

Environmental assessments have been conducted at seven of CFA’s regional training centres across Victoria. These are at:

  • Penshurst
  • Wangaratta
  • Longerenong (Horsham)
  • Huntly (Bendigo)
  • Fulham (Sale)
  • Bangholme (Dandenong/Carrum)
  • Fiskville (closed). 

EPA advises that on and offsite testing and investigation has been undertaken at each of these regional training centres, confirming that reticulated (mains) drinking water supplies in surrounding communities are safe to drink. Varying levels and extents of PFAS impacts were identified in soils and waters (surface and groundwater) at the CFA regional training centres.

As is standard practice, EPA issued CFA clean up notices for all the above locations to provide transparency and formalise CFA’s requirements, timelines and reporting expectations.

Each clean up notice was based on an EPA inspection of the site and a targeted environmental site assessment containing test results prepared by an environmental consultancy. It required practical actions and timelines for further investigation, reporting and appropriate remediation and management of each of its regional training centres.

The former CFA Fiskville site has been permanently closed and is currently being decommissioned and remediated, with works currently scheduled to continue until 2020.

The remaining CFA training centres continue to operate. CFA is implementing an extensive program of upgrades at all these regional training centres in response to the findings of the completed testing and investigations. The site upgrades will ensure that all sites have best-practice environmental management controls. Site specific environmental monitoring programs continue at all sites.

EPA continues to actively work with key Government Departments on researching and managing impacts related to PFAS contamination.

For copies of any of the notices mentioned above or if you have any questions about the notices, please contact EPA on 1300 372 842 (1300 EPA VIC)

Updates for the regional training centre (RTC) sites

To get the latest news on any of the sites, subscribe to our email updates.

Penshurst

  • The town drinking water supply is from a deep groundwater aquifer. Wannon Water has tested the drinking water and confirmed that no PFAS are present and the water is safe to drink.
  • CFA technical experts, EPA authorised officers, contaminated site specialists and an independent, EPA-appointed environmental auditor have conducted a number of site inspections and assessments of the Penshurst RTC.
  • To date, testing of groundwater near the site has shown several bores that are contaminated with PFAS. CFA and EPA are working with landowners to ensure any potential risks are known and managed.
  • A short-term environmental audit was completed for the site in 2015. This audit further delineated offsite surface water and groundwater contamination, and confirmed no significant health risks should exposure occur.
  • Following implementation of the recommendations of the short-term environmental audit report for ongoing management controls, which included providing alternative water supplies to properties with impacted groundwater bores, a long-term audit was completed in 2017. 
  • The long-term audit further delineated the extent of contamination and identified long-term management controls and cleanup measures required.
  • CFA and the auditor have provided full briefings to neighbours, representatives from the community and key agencies such as local water corporations and the Department of Health and Human Services.
  • A cleanup plan developed by CFA has been submitted to EPA. The plan formalises existing actions, as well as implementation of audit recommendations. This is a dynamic plan to ensure it continually includes the latest information and recommendations from further testing and the long-term environmental audit.
  • The site is currently regulated via clean up notices and a pollution abatement notice.

Bangholme

  • The drinking water supply in the area has not been affected and is safe to drink.
  • CFA technical experts and EPA authorised officers have conducted a site inspection of the Bangholme RTC.
  • A program of testing of surface water, drainage lines and groundwater near the site is under way.
  • Current testing has not identified any offsite contamination.
  • We do not expect nearby facilities, such as the Eastern Treatment Plant, to be affected by contamination from the Bangholme site. Recycled water supplies from the Eastern Treatment Plant are safe to use.
  • A fire training water management plan is in place at the site, which includes improved stormwater management.
  • CFA has completed and submitted to EPA an extensive environmental management plan and an environmental site assessment for the Bangholme RTC.
  • EPA has requested that CFA review the findings of environmental site assessments in light of the recently released draft ANZECC PFOS and PFOA standards.

Wangaratta

  • Water corporations have tested drinking water for surrounding areas. It is not affected and is safe to drink.
  • Testing of groundwater near the site has been conducted. A very low level of PFOS contamination has been detected in an observation bore near the site, but not near homes. This bore is not currently in use. Current testing has not identified any further offsite groundwater contamination.
  • CFA technical experts and EPA authorised officers have conducted a site inspection of the Wangaratta RTC.
  • A program of testing of surface water, drainage lines and groundwater near the site is under way. Surface water in Three Mile Creek was tested and no contaminants were detected.
  • A fire training water management plan is in place at the site, which includes improved stormwater management.
  • CFA has completed and submitted to EPA an extensive environmental management plan and an environmental site assessment for the Wangaratta RTC.
  • EPA has requested that CFA review the findings of environmental site assessments in light of the recently released draft ANZECC PFOS and PFOA standards.

Huntly

  • Water corporations have tested drinking water for surrounding areas. It is not affected and is safe to drink.
  • CFA technical experts and EPA authorised officers have conducted a site inspection of the Huntly RTC.
  • A program of testing of surface water, drainage lines and groundwater near the site is underway.
  • Current testing has not identified any offsite contamination.
  • A fire training water management plan is in place at the site, which includes improved stormwater management.
  • CFA has completed and submitted to EPA an extensive environmental management plan and an environmental site assessment for the Huntly RTC.
  • EPA has requested that CFA review the findings of environmental site assessments in light of the recently released draft ANZECC PFOS and PFOA standards.

Fulham (West Sale)

  • Water corporations have tested drinking water for surrounding areas. It is not affected and is safe to drink.
  • CFA technical experts and EPA authorised officers have conducted a site inspection of the Fulham (West Sale) RTC.
  • A program of testing of surface water, drainage lines and groundwater near the site is under way.
  • Current testing has not identified any offsite contamination.
  • A fire training water management plan is in place at the site, which includes improved stormwater management.
  • CFA has completed and submitted to EPA an extensive environmental management plan and an environmental site assessment for the Fulham RTC.
  • EPA has requested that CFA review the findings of environmental site assessments in light of the recently released draft ANZECC PFOS and PFOA standards.

Longerenong

  • Water corporations have tested drinking water for surrounding areas. It is not affected and is safe to drink.
  • CFA technical experts and EPA authorised officers have conducted a site inspection of the Longerenong RTC.
  • A program of testing of surface water, drainage lines and groundwater near the site is under way.
  • Current testing has not identified any offsite contamination.
  • A fire training water management plan is in place at the site, which includes improved stormwater management.
  • CFA has completed and submitted to EPA an extensive environmental management plan and an environmental site assessment for the Longerenong RTC.
  • EPA has requested that CFA review the findings of environmental site assessments in light of the recently released draft ANZECC PFOS and PFOA standards.

Fiskville (closed)

  • On 22 January 2013, EPA issued two clean up notices which require CFA to develop and implement a cleanup plan, and to conduct s53V and s53X environmental audits.
  • The CFA Board voted to permanently close the site in March 2015. The site is currently largely unoccupied.
  • Substantial site assessments and interim rehabilitation works have been, and are continuing to be, undertaken.
  • Plans for significant remediation/rehabilitation works are well developed, with the onsite works expected to be complete prior to the finalisation of the s53X environmental audit, currently required to be completed in December 2020.
  • The clean up notices will be reviewed over time, and EPA is likely to consolidate current notices and issue further notices to maintain transparency and oversight.
  • EPA meets regularly with CFA to discuss progress of activities e.g. decommissioning and demolition works.

Clean up notices for Penshurst, Wangaratta, Longerenong, Huntly, Fulham, Bangholme and Fiskville

A clean up notice is a written statutory direction that requires, by law, that a notice recipient undertake works or activities as detailed in the notice. Remedial notices are served to prevent or remedy a range of non-compliances or likely non-compliances. Remedial notices are not punitive measures like EPA sanctioning tools (such as a licence suspension or prosecution).

Each clean up notice is based on EPA inspection of the site and a targeted environmental site assessment containing test results prepared by an environmental consultancy. It requires practical actions and timelines for further assessment, management, and reporting of any contamination.

For copies of any of the notices mentioned above or if you have any questions about the notices, please contact EPA on 1300 372 842 (1300 EPA VIC). Huntly latest update Longerenong latest update Penshurst latest update Fiskville latest update Bangholme latest update Fulham latest update Wangaratta latest update Huntly latest update Longerenong latest update CFA Fiskville investigation Penshurst latest update Bangholme latest update Fulham latest update Wangaratta latest update

 

Q&A on CFA regional training centre testing + Expand all Collapse all

  • Why is EPA overseeing testing at the CFA regional training centres? What is the concern?

    EPA is investigating potential contamination resulting from firefighting chemicals used in the past by CFA at its six regional training centres (RTCs) across Victoria.

    There are concerns that the contamination may have extended beyond the boundary of the training centres and affected nearby waterways, drains and groundwater.

    This work commenced after CFA informed EPA that testing it had been undertaking at the regional centres showed elevated levels of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in groundwater at the Penshurst site.

    To ensure transparency and independent oversight, EPA has issued a statutory clean up notice (CUN) on each site. A CUN is issued under section 61A of the Environment Protection Act 1970.

  • What is being done to address the concerns?

    EPA – in conjunction with CFA, Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR) and relevant water corporations – is working to better understand the potential risks posed to human health, livestock and the environment at each of CFA’s six training centres.

  • Is drinking water safe in the areas around these sites?

    Yes. Relevant water corporations have assessed reticulated drinking water supplies in and around the CFA’s six sites and all drinking water has been confirmed safe to drink.

  • What are the contaminants?

    Please refer to the EPA PFAS webpage for more information.

  • What are the health effects of PFAS?

    Please refer to the EPA PFAS webpage for more information.

  • Where are CFA’s training centres located?

    The centres are located at Penshurst, Wangaratta, Longerenong (Horsham), Huntly (Bendigo), Fulham (Sale) and Bangholme (Dandenong/Carrum).

  • What sort of regulatory action is EPA taking?

    EPA, as the environmental regulator, has issued CFA statutory notices requiring further investigation and appropriate remediation and management of each of its regional training centres.

  • Has any contamination been detected outside the centres?

    Yes. At Penshurst, perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) contamination levels above drinking water criteria have been detected in four stock and domestic bores in the Penshurst area. CFA and EPA staff have visited these households and discussed alternative water supplies and health checks with the residents.

    Also, PFOS contamination at levels above drinking water criteria have been detected in an observation bore 500 m north of the Wangaratta training centre. This bore is not currently in use and results will inform further works by CFA.

  • What about other users of PFAS?

    EPA is also working with other agencies and jurisdictions, including the Department of Defence and airports, to understand other potential risks of contamination from these firefighting foams.

    Read further information on the National PFAS Investigation and Management Program being conducted by DoD

Page last updated on 1 Aug 2018