Fish have been tested in the ongoing investigation of PFAS contamination from the Bandiana Army barracks, but the release of the results will be a year late.
No public update has been given since September 2018 on the investigation into the environmental effect of PFAS migrating from Defence land, where firefighting foam containing the chemicals was used until 2010.
At a community meeting last year, First Assistant Secretary Infrastructure Chris Birrer said it was believed there was a "low risk of any human health exposure pathways" in Wodonga, and that a Human Health and Ecological Risk Assessment would be released in the first quarter of 2019.
He reassured PFAS levels were below safe guidelines in town water supply and places like the Kiewa River where people swim.
Asked about the HHERA delay, a Defence spokeswoman said in a statement that consultation with other agencies meant the scope of the study was widened, and "Unfortunately, this has led to a delay".
"Defence now expects to release the HHERA Report for Bandiana in the first quarter of 2020," she said.
"Since the release of the Detailed Site Investigation in September 2018, further targeted sampling and testing of local groundwater bores and monitoring wells on and off Bandiana Military Area has occurred.
"The HHERA has included additional sampling of surface water and sediment from creeks, rivers and ox-bow lakes.
"The HHERA also included the sampling of aquatic biota including fish, yabbies and crayfish from the Kiewa River and Jack in the Box Creek.
"The results of the sampling will be published in the HHERA Report.
"A community newsletter will be issued and released on the website in the near future."
An Australian Health Department panel found no evidence there is a large health impact associated with PFAS exposure, but "important health effects" could not be ruled out.
The Coalition Against PFAS disputes this position and a class action involving Newcastle residents is next back in court this month.
Shine Lawyers still have a class action involving Wodonga on their books and are investigating whether the contamination by PFAS has negatively impacted land values in Wodonga.
In July, the Queensland Health Department issued advice not to eat fish caught from a creek next to the Mackay Airport, after testing by Air Services Australia.
Queensland and NSW are the states where the most investigations are underway by Defence.
In Wagga, a PFAS management plan is underway.
The Bandiana Military Area is one of four in Victoria.
The Defence spokeswoman said a community newsletter would be issued and released on the website in the near future, providing an update on the progress of the investigation."
The spokeswoman said there had been 214 responses to a Voluntary Water Use Survey.
"Based on the information received most properties are connected to mains water - four are not," the spokeswoman said.
"Of the four - one relies on a combination of rainwater and bore water, the remaining three rely on rainwater.
"There were 20 properties identified as using rainwater to supplement mains water, 14 properties have surface water features on the (i.e. creeks, dams or drains), and of these, four use surface water for watering fruit / vegetables, gardens, livestock, poultry and occasionally firefighting.
"No tanks were reported to have either contained or been washed with bore water.
"No properties that are known to use bore water for drinking have had a detection above the drinking water health-based guidance value."
Sampling of soil and water first took place in 2016.
The DSI report found chemicals have migrated off-base via surface water into the Jack in the Box Creek catchment, and via surface water and groundwater into the Kiewa River catchment.
One surface-water sample from the Oxbows Kiewa River floodplain contained 12.8 ug/L of PFHxS and PFOS, which is 18 times the guidelines for recreational water (0.7 ug/L).
It recommended that testing should try to determine whether PFAS is accumulating in food people are either growing or catching.
That included sheep grazing on-base, and any cattle, deer or fish that may have ingested surface-water with high concentrations of PFAS and eventually consumed by people.
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