Investigation of chemicals in new phase
The Department of Defence held a special community walk-in session at Quest Rockingham last Wednesday, outlining the next phase of its investigation into toxic firefighting chemicals that were found on HMAS Stirling last year.
HMAS Stirling on Garden Island, which is the Royal Australian Navy’s primary base on the west coast, was caught up in an investigation into the long-term effects of particular firefighting foams used at military bases across the country.
Initially, there were fears the perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, known otherwise as PFAS, could have contaminated Cockburn Sound.
Those fears were allayed in April after the Cockburn Sound Management Council revealed preliminary sampling found there was no evidence of PFAS contamination, with concentrations found to be below the Australian Government’s health-based recreational water guidelines.
Department of Defence first assistant secretary infrastructure Chris Birrer told the Telegraph the preliminary site investigation had finished, with the DoD now moving on to a detailed site investigation at HMAS Stirling.
“It would involve the collection of about 500 samples of groundwater, surface water, soil and sediment to better understand the true nature and extent of PFAS in the environment there,” Mr Birrer said.
“So far, the preliminary site investigation suggests that it is extremely unlikely PFASimpacted groundwater will migrate from the base into the mainland due to the layers of rock and soil that restrict water flow.”
Mr Birrer said after the sampling and analysis of the 500 or so samples, an environmental science assessment would later be made public by the middle of next year.
“While Defence isn’t a health authority, the current health advice is that there is no consistent evidence of adverse human health impact from these chemicals,” he said.