Mackay Airport runway
Mackay Airport runway Contributed

Toxic fire-fighting foam contaminates land in Mackay

THE State Government is creating an 'atlas' of areas where fire fighter foam is stored and has warned people to stop using it "as soon as possible".

The Queensland Government has banned fire fighting foam that contains per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and has told the industry to stop using the chemical and withdraw stock 'as soon as possible'.

The two compounds have been used at Mackay Airport's fire fighting training grounds for years.

Recent tests conducted by Air Services Australia revealed that some land at Mackay's airport is contaminated, despite it having not been used for years.

The chemicals do not break down in the environment.

Environment Minister Dr Steven Miles said the work would help the government develop a "detailed view" of where older and possibly contaminated firefighting foam existed.

"This government has already banned new stocks of firefighting foam that may contain per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and have informed commerce and industry that any existing stocks must be withdrawn as soon as possible," Dr Miles said.

"We are now actively reviewing the locations and scale of firefighting foams throughout Queensland that may contain PFAS and engaging with commerce and industry to ensure they know and understand their obligations.

"We've engaged across industry, including with ports administration, users and tenants, mining service suppliers, bulk fuel storage facilities and with relevant government agencies.

"We are working to build up an 'atlas' of priority areas that will give us a detailed view of where older and possibly contaminated fire fighting foam may still exist."

Dr Miles said the government had acted to restrict the supply and installation of PFAS substances at the centre of the current issue of contamination from defence and civilian airports across Australia.

He said the ban brought into place in July this year required that any existing stocks of foams at commercial and industrial premises containing perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), the compound of most concern, were withdrawn from service as soon as possible.

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