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Armidale Site - Environmental Investigation

FRNSW has begun an environmental investigation at its Armidale training site and surrounding areas.  The investigation is part of FRNSW's review of a number of its sites across NSW where legacy firefighting foams containing per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) including perfluorooctane (per-floo-row-ok-tane) sulfonate (sul-fon-ate), known as PFOS, and perfluorooctanoic (per-floo-row-ok-tan-oh-eek) acid, known as PFOA, as active ingredients have been stored, used and disposed of.

PFAS compounds are emerging as a containment of concern because of their persistence in the environment. They are classified as emerging contaminates which means they do not have established health standards; and their ecology and/or human health effects are unclear.

This website provides specific information relevant to the Armidale investigation. Visit the EPA website for more background information relating to PFAS and the wider investigation program across NSW.

For enquiries related to this investigation please refer to the contacts page.

About the Investigation

The preliminary site investigation commenced in June 2016, and has included:

  • reviewing site history for AFFF use and identifying potential sources of PFAS
  • investigating and modelling how PFAS moves through the environment
  • developing a Sampling Analysis and Quality Plan (SAQP)
  • targeted intrusive site investigations (if required)

The Sampling Analysis and Quality Plan has been released and is available here (PDF, 19.9MB).

The SAQP includes the recommendation that FRNSW undertake targeted intrusive site investigations on, and in the vicinity of the Armidale training site

The targeted intrusive site investigation commenced in November 2016, and includes:

  • engagement with local residents and stakeholders about the program
  • sampling, which will include on and off-site sampling in soil, groundwater and surface water to further assess the nature and extent of PFAS on, and in the vicinity of, the site
  • investigating and modelling how PFAS moves through the environment and preparing the preliminary site investigation report

These activities assist our understanding of potential impacts to people and the environment in the Armidale area, from the use of AFFF legacy firefighting foams.

We expect that the preliminary site investigations will take approximately 12 weeks to complete and test results will be made available to the local community. The results will also inform the priorities for the next stage of the investigation.

Further investigations

If there is some indication that contamination has gone offsite, we will carry out more comprehensive sampling to get the full picture around impacts in soil and waterways.

A detailed site investigation might also involve an assessment of whether they are any exposure pathways for humans to come into contact with these chemicals.

If significant exposure pathways are identified, a human health risk assessment may then be undertaken. This will evaluate potential risks to health and prioritise remediation measures.

These assessments can take some months, depending on the findings of the detailed site investigation, but we are committed to finishing any investigations in a timely manner.

Consulting with stakeholders

Once environmental reports are finalised, FRNSW will consult with residents and local stakeholders on the findings.

The community will be kept informed throughout the investigation via the FRNSW website, fact sheets, through the 1800 number and community information sessions if they are required.

More Information

FRNSW is committed to being open and transparent about these investigations. We will update the community as investigation reports are released. We will maintain the currency of information on the website and provide community information sessions as required. Phone contact through the 1800 number, direct mail, and fact sheets will provide further support to assist with information access as the investigation progresses.

Contact details can be found here.

Further information on PFAS and the PFAS investigation program being undertaken by the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) can be found on the EPA website at www.epa.nsw.gov.au/Mediainformation/pfasinvestigation.htm.

If you would like to talk to the NSW EPA please call the Environment Line on 131 555.

Armidale – Documentation

This page contains links to reports which have been prepared by independent consultants engaged by FRNSW. The following is a list of reports relevant to this project. Report are provided in full.

The Sampling Analysis and Quality Report was released in November 2016.

Armidale Sampling Analysis and Quality Plan – GHD (PDF, 19.9MB)