Land and groundwater

PFAS site investigations


PFAS contamination is managed like other types of environmental contamination. That means EPA can use its statutory powers under the Environment Protection Act 1970 to hold polluters and landholders to account and issue remedial notices requiring sites to be investigated and cleaned up. As Victoria’s environmental regulator, it is EPA’s role to investigate potential environmental contamination from PFAS and other chemicals in soil, groundwater, surface water (freshwater), landfill leachate and groundwater as well as biota.

In the case that EPA does not have regulatory authority, EPA will take regulatory action within its powers regarding any offsite pollution impacts.

Site investigations + Expand all Collapse all

  • CFA regional training centres

    EPA is continuing to regulate environmental impacts caused by Country Fire Authority's (CFA) 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.

    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.

    Please see our CFA regional training centres webpage for more information.

  • Department of Defence

    The Department of Defence has commenced a national program to review its estate and investigate and implement a comprehensive approach to manage the impacts of per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances on and in the vicinity of some of its bases around Australia.

    EPA takes environmental investigations very seriously and is committed to supporting the Department of Defence with its obligations in accordance with the Environment Protection Act 1970.

    Investigation sites

    The Department of Defence is conducting detailed environmental reviews at the following sites:

    Royal Australian Air Force Base, East Sale

    More information:

    • RAAF Base East Sale environmental investigation.
    • The Preliminary Site Investigation Report, released in October 2016, the Detailed Site Investigation Report, released in June 2017 and the Interim Human Health and Ecological Risk Assessment, released December 2017, are available on the East Sale Publications Page
    • Following preliminary testing of PFAS levels of plants and animals undertaken by the Department of Defence, EPA issued Precautionary Health Advice on 28 September 2017 to avoid consumption of ducks, fish and eels from the Heart Morass. A fact sheet is also available. This advice has since been extended to include Dowd’s Morass.

    HMAS Cerberus, Royal Australian Navy in Mornington Peninsula

    More information:

    Gaza Ridge Barracks, Australian Army, in Bandiana, Albury/Wodonga

    More information:

    More information

    Please refer to the PFAS Investigation and Management Program section of the Department of Defence website for information relating to the national review program commissioned by the Department. 

    For additional information or enquiries, please refer to the Contacts page on the Department of Defence website.

  • Other sites

    EPA is managing a number of industrial sites across Victoria that may have PFAS contamination issues. Some detail on selected sites is below. For information on other sites, please call EPA on 1300 372 842 (1300 EPA VIC).

    Esso Longford

    Through a Major Industries Assessment of the Esso Longford Gas Facility in 2016, EPA required Esso to undertake an environmental site assessment for contamination, including PFAS (per- and poly-fluorinated alkyl substances). Onsite assessment detected PFAS from old training grounds and a large fire event in 1998. Onsite water supplies have been cleared as safe with relevant water corporations and WorkSafe involved.

    The investigation also revealed offsite surface water with PFAS levels in excess of drinking water guidelines in a number of stock watering dams on properties leased from Esso for farming purposes, as well as private farming properties.

    EPA has issued a number of statutory notices to Esso regarding identification and cleanup of PFAS contamination.

    As of March 2018, Esso is required to undertake a full environmental audit in accordance with section 53V of the Environment Protection Act 1970. They are also required to implement an approved Interim Clean Up Plan. For more information please see the Esso Longford website.

    If you experience pollution in the area, you can report it to EPA by contacting us on 1300 372 842 (1300 EPA VIC).

    Timeline

    June 2016 – Pollution abatement notice (90007100) issued requiring Esso to undertake an environmental site assessment to investigate PFAS contamination on and around its Longford site. This site assessment was completed May 2017.

    February 2017 – Esso notified EPA that initial testing had detected PFAS above drinking water guideline levels in a neighbouring farm dam.

    March 2017 – Clean-up notice (90007632) issued to Esso requiring them to implement controls preventing access of stock and humans to PFAS-contaminated water after proper investigation.

    May 2017 – Esso submitted environmental site assessment to EPA.

    May 2017 – Esso held community open house information session, EPA and DHHS staff in attendance.

    July 2017 – Clean-up notice (90007860) issued to Esso requiring them to appoint an EPA approved Environmental Auditor by August 2017 to develop a scope for a full environmental audit in accordance with the Environment Protection Act 1970, section 53V, and capable of developing an Interim Clean Up Plan.

    October 2017 – Clean-up notice (90008215/90008394) issued to Esso requiring them to prepare an Interim Clean Up Plan.

    Jan 2018 – Esso submitted an auditor approved Interim Clean Up Plan and approved scope for a full environmental audit to EPA. EPA reviewed both documents.

    Feb 2018 – Esso issued with two notices. Clean-up notice (90008551) issued to Esso requiring implementation of the approved Interim Clean Up Plan and issued another clean-up notice (90008496) requiring Esso to undertake a full environmental audit in accordance with the scope submitted earlier.

    Feb 2018 – Esso held a community information open house. Staff from EPA, AGVic in attendance.

    Into the future

    Clean-up notice 90008496 requiring a 53V environmental audit of the Esso Longford Gas Facility is due for completion by 30 November 2020.

    Clean-up Notice 90008551 requiring implementation of the Interim Clean Up Plan is also due by November 2020.

    Esso is required to submit to EPA annual reports regarding the status of the 53V environmental audit and the Interim Clean Up Plan in November of each year until 2020.

  • Airports

    For information on the Commonwealth PFAS management program for airports please visit the National PFAS Management Program page on the Airservices Australia website.

    The Commonwealth is the lead authority to ensure that federally leased airports take responsibility for onsite and offsite contamination. EPA is working with the Commonwealth to ensure that the duty holder is held accountable for ongoing management of any contamination that exists.

Page last updated on 1 Aug 2018