PFAS Management

PFAS Management

PFAS testing at Canberra Airport

Per and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) substances are a class of manufactured chemicals used in aqueous film forming foams (AFFF) which were used for firefighting in Australia before 2010.

On Canberra Airport, the only known user of AFFF containing PFAS has been the Commonwealth, including Airservices Australia. These foams were used in airport firefighting services and training.  Airservices Australia is a Commonwealth-owned statutory corporation. Airservices Australia has advised that since 2010, it has ceased its use of PFAS containing fire-fighting foams.

Canberra Airport takes pride in delivering and operating a safe and secure airport. Accordingly, in 2015, when we were first made aware of global concerns about PFAS, Canberra Airport commissioned its own program of testing for PFAS in soil, stormwater and groundwater which regularly monitors PFAS levels across the airport site and downstream of the airport and reports PFAS levels to the relevant Commonwealth regulators and the ACT EPA.

The results of this program of testing have indicated that there are only two significant areas of PFAS pollution at Canberra Airport. These are the:

  • Airservices Australia Canberra Airport Fire Station (which is on Scherger Drive on the road into Fairbairn)
  • Airservices Australia Fire Training Ground (which is on the far side of the main runway and is north of Fairbairn and the Air Traffic Control Tower, where they practice aircraft firefighting).

These sites have been leased to Airservices Australia by Canberra Airport since the privatisation of the airport in 1998 but were occupied by the Commonwealth and used by Airservices Australia prior to this.

Clean-up of Airservices’ PFAS pollution

Canberra Airport believes PFAS is a contaminant in the environment that clearly needs to be dealt with. Canberra Airport has made numerous representations to Airservices Australia and the Australian Government (the Department of Infrastructure and the Department of Environment) over the last eight years, requesting that Airservices Australia reduce PFAS pollution at the airport by removing the source of that pollution from its leased sites. Recently, Canberra Airport requested formal remediation orders from the Airport Environment Officer appointed by the Department of Infrastructure to Canberra Airport, to deal with this PFAS pollution. It is our goal for these orders to address PFAS pollution at Airservices Australia leased premises by quarantining and removing it without further delay.