HMAS Stirling: Dept of Defence to investigate detections of fluorosurfactant chemicals at Garden Island

HMAS Stirling: Dept of Defence to investigate detections of fluorosurfactant chemicals at Garden Island

THE Department of Defence will launch a detailed environmental investigation after per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) were found at HMAS Stirling, Garden Island.

Preliminary sampling conducted at HMAS Stirling involved the collection of a limited number of groundwater samples on the base.

The sampling had detections for PFAS.

According to the WA Department of Health PFAS are “of concern around the world because they are not broken down in the environment and so can persist for a long time. Their widespread use and persistence means that many types of PFAS are ubiquitous global contaminants”.

Many countries have phased out, or are in the process of phasing out the use of PFAS due to concerns about their persistence, bioaccumulation and toxicity.

Based on the findings it was determined HMAS Stirling will be subject to an investigation, conducted in accordance with the National Environmental Protection (Assessment of Site Contamination) Measure (NEPM) framework.

The Department of Defence released its Preliminary Sampling Program Report for HMAS Stirling this afternoon.

A statement said the department had been proactive in initiating an environmental program to investigate the nature and extent of PFAS on and near selected Defence properties around Australia.

“The Preliminary Sampling Program was undertaken at 12 Defence properties across Australia to understand if PFAS are present on, or in the vicinity of the properties,” the statement said.

“The detailed environmental investigation will take approximately 12 months to complete and will determine the nature and extent of PFAS on, and in the vicinity of, the base.

“The investigation will start in 2017. Specific dates will be advised once Defence has consulted with relevant federal, state/territory and local government authorities.”

A community briefing and information activity prior to the environmental investigation at HMAS Stirling is planned to engage with the community and relevant government stakeholders on the progress and findings of the investigation.

The statement said the Department of Defence was not an authority on public health or ecological issues.

“The provision of advice on these matters is the role of respective federal and state/territory government authorities,” the statement said.

“Defence takes environmental investigations very seriously and is committed to implementing appropriate management responses based on the advice of independent experts in this field.”

The National Hotline Number is 1800 365 414 or email PFASDefenceCoordination@golder.com.au.

For more information visit http://www.defence.gov.au/id/PFOSPFOA/_master/docs/PSPFactSheets/PSPFactSheetStirlingFinal.pdf.