Work has almost finished on the first of two PFAS water treatment plants at the Tindal RAAF Base.
While Katherine residents remain on water restrictions waiting on work for its own upgraded plant, the first of two plants at Tindal is almost done.
The two plants are sited on the source of the PFAS contamination which continues to leak from the base, under Katherine and into the river.
They are designed to clean water leaving the fire training areas and re-inject the water back into the groundwater.
Residents have previously questioned the priority of locating the new plants first at Tindal given the Department of Defence acknowledges it will take many years to clean-up the contamination.
Tindal base residents also receive their supplies from the Katherine water treatment plant and are subject to the same restrictions.
The second plant is expected to be delivered before June next year.
Once the water treatment plants are operational, data detailing laboratory analysis, from each plant, will be placed on the Defence website monthly.
Senior defence official, Steve Grzeskowiak, told a Senate hearing in June the treatment plants will clean PFAS from groundwater, and then put the clean water back.
He told the hearing that defence would “need to run those plants for a long time”.
For an expected cost of $5 million for the first plant, it is expected to treat five megalitres of water per day.
Defence has already paid for a $4m plant which treats 10 per cent of Katherine’s drinking water, one megalitre per day.
Power and Water officials want a big plant capable of cleaning PFAS from about 10 megalitres of contaminated water per day for Katherine.
A Defence spokesman said they were “committed to managing and remediating PFAS contamination in Katherine”.
“One of the primary management objectives of Defence is to reduce and/or where possible, remove PFAS exposure pathways for affected communities.
“In addition to the interim Katherine Power and Water Corporation water treatment plant to remove potential exposure through drinking water, Defence is installing two water treatment plants at key PFAS source areas located on RAAF Base Tindal.
“The water treatment plants will treat extracted groundwater with the aim of reducing the amount of PFAS within the environment that is able to migrate further from the Base.
“The first treatment plant is under construction at the Fire Training Area and will be completed soon. Once constructed the plant will undergo a commissioning period with the plant expected to be fully operational in first quarter 2019. The second treatment plant at the Fire Station Area is expected to be operational around mid-2019.
“The additional water treatment plants will form part of Defence’s actions under the PFAS Management Area Plan (PMAP). The PMAP will present options to manage and reduce the risks of PFAS exposure near RAAF Base Tindal and outline a plan for ongoing monitoring. Defence is currently finalising the PMAP, with expected completion in late 2018,” the spokesman said.
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