Environmental PFAS investigation to sample water and soil in Bandiana Military Area

The area subject to an environmental investigation commissioned by the Australian Defence Department to look at the impacts of PFAS chemicals.
The area subject to an environmental investigation commissioned by the Australian Defence Department to look at the impacts of PFAS chemicals.

An investigation into the environmental impacts of PFAS chemicals present in the Bandiana Military Area and surrounding suburbs will be undertaken over the next 20 months.

It’s the latest step in the Australian Defence Department’s response to concerns of health effects of the chemical, found in Aqueous Film Forming Foam used at its sites up until 2004.

The department’s historical use of the foam and response to contamination of drinking water were put in the spotlight during Monday night’s ABC Four Corners program.

The investigation claimed the department was warned about the chemicals' impact on the environment in 1987, and detailed class actions being launched by many affected residents.

The federal Environmental Health Standing Committee ruled in 2016 there was no consistent evidence that exposure causes adverse human health effects.

Of seven water samples taken from the Bandiana area in that year for a preliminary assessment, presence of PFAS was detected in two.

Sites tested during 2016

Sites tested during 2016

Surface water samples taken from Jack in the Box Creek on the western edge of the Bandiana site boundary near Victoria Cross Parade recorded a reading of 0.5 micrograms per litre, higher than the department’s adopted guideline for groundwater (drinking water) of 0.2.

Lead (filtered) was also detected at that site, almost three times the level outlined in the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines.

Lead levels were seven times the ADWG guidelines in a sample taken within the military grounds.

The defence department held community walk-in sessions in August and properties near and downstream of the base have been invited to participate in a water use survey.

Environmental consultant Golder Associates was commissioned by the department to begin a detailed investigation into the extent of PFAS in the area this month.

Soil, sediment and surface water will be sampled and if necessary plants and animals will also be assessed to identify the extent of contamination.