Australian engineering, design and advisory company Aurecon has been appointed by the Australian Government Department of Defence to deliver its Per-and Poly-fluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) management and remediation plan at the HMAS Albatross base, located 170 kilometres south of Sydney. The project is one of four joint investigation and remediation works being implemented by Defence in partnership with Aurecon at bases around the country as part of its national PFAS Investigation and Management Program.
PFAS is an active ingredient in legacy firefighting Aqueous Film Forming Foam. The remediation of PFAS from the environment on bases is a focus for Defence as the chemicals can persist in the environment, causing contamination to the soil and water of the base.
Aurecon’s appointment at HMAS Albatross builds on its multi-year environmental investigation and assessment being carried out at the base for Defence. Future works will involve Aurecon conducting a detailed study of the distribution of PFAS on the base and removing contaminants to restore affected areas.
Aurecon Environment and Planning Principal Adam Anderson said the assessment and remediation work at HMAS Albatross has been made more effective by using the latest digital modelling software and tools.
“Historically, understanding the likelihood and volume of contamination in the ground areas where samples are limited has been difficult,” Adam said.
“By combining Aurecon’s environment and planning expertise with advanced digital modelling capabilities, we’re able to more accurately ‘scan’ and assess PFAS affected areas on base, and appropriately remediate and restore them.
“So far we’ve harnessed the power of existing modelling techniques such as geological and topographical modelling, contaminant volumetrics, 3D spatial statistical confidence analysis, and so forth to assess the extent of contamination,” he said.
“Moving forward, we’ll also introduce ‘groundGauge’, an Aurecon developed data visualisation tool, at HMAS Albatross to assist ground contamination investigations and help Defence make informed decisions regarding remediation works and cost.
“groundGauge provides unprecedented transparency and visualisation of site contamination data, which helps facilitate complex decision making and prioritising action in an efficient manner.
“The tool also uses pre-existing data to optimise the data sample collection process and utilises an in-built algorithm to estimate the possible extent and impacts of site contamination.
“Overall, groundGauge acts as a reliable source of truth that minimises uncertainty within the preliminary phases of ground site assessment, and saves cost and time,” Adam concluded.
Aurecon Defence and National Security Managing Director David Barnes said progress made to date at HMAS Albatross and around the country is a testament to Defence’s commitment to partnering with industry to restore affected bases around the country.
“We are committed to partnering with Defence to deliver a strategic plan to mitigate PFAS risk, and remediate and restore the affected bases. Progress to date is a credit to the strong working relationship between Aurecon and Defence,” David said.
“The progress at HMAS Albatross demonstrates the power of what’s possible when you combine multidisciplinary understanding with the power of digital tools,” he said.
Australian Government Department of Defence Assistant Secretary PFAS Investigation and Management Branch Luke McLeod said that the work done at HMAS Albatross is part of Defence’s commitment to responsibly managing and remediating PFAS from its bases.
“The HMAS Albatross project is one example of the considerable attention Defence and its industry partners are placing on responsibly managing and remediating PFAS from its affected bases,” Luke said.