Soil testing starts at Albatross and Creswell

Published on Mr Pup Elliott (author), ABIS Steven Thomson (photographer)

Location(s): Nowra, New South Wales, Jervis Bay, Australian Capital Territory

HMAS Albatross from the air. (photo: ABIS Steven Thomson)
HMAS Albatross from the air.

The Department of Defence has commenced an environmental investigation at HMAS Albatross and nearby HMAS Creswell to evaluate the potential presence of chemicals which were historically used in fire fighting foams. 

The fire fighting foam, referred to as Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF), is used worldwide to combat liquid fuel fires and in it’s early form it contained chemicals known as perflourooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluroocantanoic acid (PFOA) which are the subject of the investigation. 

Defence commenced phasing out this form of foam from 2004 when it became known that PFOS and PFOA were emerging as potential contaminants. 

The investigation will take samples of ground water, surface water, sediments on base and in the surrounding area. This will assist in modelling to determine the potential presence of the chemicals in the area. 

Commanding Officer of HMAS Albatross, Captain Simon Bateman, conducted information briefings to all base staff as well as a community information session on Wednesday 18 May 16 at the Nowra Hill Public School.

Captain Bateman advised all groups that the testing would take time but the Department would maintain open and communicate at each major stage with all community and workplace groups. 

“Defence’s aim is to be open and transparent. We are dealing with an emerging contaminant that has no defined limits at this point. There are also no globally accepted, peer-reviewed studies which link PFOS/PFOA to adverse medical effects,” Captain Bateman said.

“If anybody can contribute to the testing through the provision of local knowledge about the historical use of AFFF they should come forward and contact the contractors conducting the testing.” 

Commanding Officer of HMAS Creswell, Captain Stephen Hussey, in conjunction with Jervis Bay Territory and Defence Infrastructure, engaged the Booderee National Park Board and the Wreck Bay Aboriginal Community Council, as well as conducting a public information session for the wider Jervis Bay community.
It is expected that the next community engagement update will be in late July or early August after the analysis of initial sampling and testing.
People can con contact the environmental team on the community hotline: 1800 856 491, web or email