Army Aviation Centre Oakey Groundwater Investigation

Army Aviation Centre Oakey Groundwater Investigation
Questions & Answers (Q&As)
Project Specific
What is the investigation about?
Defence has identified that groundwater beneath the Army Aviation Centre Oakey (AACO)
site may have been impacted as a result of the historical use of fire-fighting foams during
training exercises held between 1970 and 2005. These foams contained perfluorooctane
sulphonate, known as PFOS and perfluorooctanoic acid, known as PFOA.
Subsequently, Defence undertook assessments of the groundwater system and these results
indicated the impact may have travelled further afield, beyond the AACO.
To identify the extent of these groundwater impacts, in January 2014 Defence commenced
targeted water sampling to the west and south-west of the base. This is part of a long-term
investigation into the potential human health risks to water users, associated with the levels
of PFOS and PFOA in groundwater.
At this stage, the investigation involves undertaking testing of the groundwater at existing
bore locations within the AACO, and collecting samples from landholders’ existing
groundwater bore sources to assess how far the groundwater impact has travelled. Where
necessary new bores may be installed to obtain water samples.
The information collected will assist Defence in understanding groundwater impacts and will
contribute to the development of appropriate management strategies to address any
potential human health and ecological risks.
What are the impacts to human health?
Whilst PFOS and PFOA are present in fire fighting foams, it is noted that these chemicals
have also been used for many years in a wide variety of common household and industrial
products such as cleaning products, textiles and paper and packaging products. As a result of
the varied uses of PFOS and PFOA people are exposed to small quantities of these substances
in their day to day life.
PFOS and PFOA are what is known as “emerging contaminants” and to date, limited
research has been done in Australia or overseas, into the possible health impacts of these
chemicals. Research in Australia and overseas continues to be undertaken.
As a precaution, Defence is recommending that landholders within the investigation area do
not drink any water sourced from underground water bores on their property. Defence are in
the process of notifying all landowners with PFOS detected in their bore water.
Further assessment of potential health impacts associated with other uses of the
underground water will be undertaken as part of ongoing investigations being conducted by
Defending Australia and its National Interests
Groundwater assessment and test sites
How were the test sites selected?
Test sites were selected based on the current understanding of groundwater flow direction,
and previous results and advice regarding the likely movement of the impact. The
groundwater sampling undertaken to date has used existing extraction bores on private and
public land.
When did water testing occur?
Targeted water sampling and testing outside of the AACO base commenced in January 2014
to the south-west of the base.
An additional round of testing occurred in May 2014. These results will be used to verify the
initial groundwater data obtained during the preliminary sampling round in January 2014.
The outcomes of these rounds of water testing are expected to be provided to landholders in
How long will the field teams be on my property undertaking the testing?
If the groundwater bore is an existing facility, the field teams will only be onsite for a few
hours to take the necessary samples.
If a new bore is required to be installed, this will take a few days. Field teams will return to
the site to undertake the necessary sample collection. Sample collections will take
approximately two to three hours to complete. To date, only existing bores have been
required to be used.
Landholders will be advised of more exact timeframes during any preliminary
communications to discuss property access for the purpose of either sampling existing bores
or to install and sample a new bore.
What does the testing involve?
For existing bore locations, samples of the groundwater are collected in plastic containers
provided by the commercial laboratory which are then sent back to the commercial
laboratory for analysis.
For sites where new bores are required, groundwater bores will be installed (using a small
drill rig) in a suitable area in consultation with the land owner. The collected groundwater
samples provide information about groundwater conditions beneath that area. Samples
collected from newly installed bores will also be sent to a commercial laboratory for chemical
What will happen if I want my groundwater tested, but my property has not
been selected for testing?
Defending Australia and its National Interests
If you are a landowner within the project area and have a bore you would like tested, please
contact the project team to discuss. Requests with be assessed on a case by case basis.
I run livestock on my property, how will test bores impact them?
The sampled groundwater bores are similar to the other groundwater bores located on your
property or other properties in the surrounding area. In instances where we have installed a
groundwater bore that is a standpipe (the top of the bore is above the ground surface), and
where livestock are present, we will install an appropriate fence to protect the livestock and
the infrastructure.
What happens if the groundwater found beneath my property is highly
Defence is proactively seeking more information about the extent of the groundwater impact
in the area and will continue to liaise with affected landholders to identify appropriate
management strategies, if these are considered necessary.
Can I continue to use the groundwater on my crops or as water for my
As advised at the December 2012 community information session, Defence does not have
any information which would indicate that the use of bore water for irrigation of crops and
watering livestock could not continue. The additional information gathered since that time
has not indicated this advice needs to change.
Defending Australia and its National Interests