What is PFAS?
- PFAS stands for per and poly fluoroalkyl substances, which are manufactured chemicals used in products that resist heat, oil, stains and water.
- In the past, firefighting foams containing PFAS were used by Airservices and other organisations due to their effectiveness in fighting liquid fuel fires.
- Airservices began transitioning away from PFAS-containing foams in the early 2000s after becoming aware of potential environment impacts.
- Airservices has been using PFAS-free foam at Cairns Airport since 2010. Airservices is Federal Government agency and PFAS remediation is their responsibility.
How does PFAS affect Cairns Airport?
- As with many airports around Australia, traces of PFAS have been detected in sites on and adjacent to Cairns Airport.
- Airservices continues to conduct site investigations at Cairns Airport, including sampling of soil, groundwater and surface water.
- Information obtained from this investigation will inform next steps in the management or remediation of sites at Cairns Airport.
How is Cairns Airport managing PFAS?
- Cairns Airport takes a collaborative approach to PFAS management, working with government regulators and independent bodies. We are managing PFAS in accordance with the National Environmental Management Plan, as well as guidelines from the Department of Environment and Science (DES).
- We conduct our own regular and comprehensive PFAS sampling programs in conjunction with Traditional Custodians and subject matter experts. This additional monitoring led by Cairns Airport helps to ensure we are taking an informed and evidence-driven approach to PFAS.
- We hope our monitoring will assist and expedite Airservices’ investigation, to produce the best possible outcome for stakeholders and the environment. We have asked Airservices to clean up the PFAS contamination at Cairns Airport.
- A community information session led by Airservices Australia and Queensland Health was held at Cairns Airport after the investigation in 2019. The next community information session led by Airservices and Queensland Health is expected in mid-April 2024, after the detailed site investigation report is released.
- Transparency and openness is our priority. Guided by the information provided by Airservices and Queensland Health, we are committed to communicating clearly and in a timely manner the known risks of PFAS exposure on or off the airport. We will engage with both impacted and interested stakeholders, decision makers and the community when the investigation from Airservices Australia is complete.
- The health and safety of our employees, contractors, local community and residents is paramount, and we continue to work with various stakeholders and agencies to take all reasonable and practicable steps to prevent and minimise the risk of PFAS on the environment and human health.
- We continue to manage, limit and prevent environmental and public safety/health risks from legacy PFAS contamination on/off our Airport Estate associated with current and future construction/development activities on Airport in accordance with the DES guidelines.
For more information (Source: Airservices)
- Airservices reports for Cairns Airport are available here.
- Visit pfas.gov.au find out more about the Australian Government’s approach to PFAS
- Australian Government Department of Health
- The Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water has developed the PFAS National Environmental Management Plan
- Information about PFAS in Queensland is available from the Queensland Government