PFAS fears spread like the foam

A photo taken during Aviation Rescue and Firefighting training with foam containing PFAS in 1998.
A photo taken during Aviation Rescue and Firefighting training with foam containing PFAS in 1998.

Aviation Firefighters have called on Airservices to “come clean” over PFAS contamination at over 26 airports across Australia

Aviation Firefighters have called on Airservices Australia to release vital information on PFAS contamination, a firefighting foam widely used at 26 airports across Australia after a media  investigation found similar contamination at air bases had been covered up by the Department of Defence.

United Firefighters Union - Aviation Branch secretary Henry Lawrence said that Airservices had consistently blocked the Union’s Freedom of Information requests on the nature and extent of PFAS contamination and the risks posed to Aviation Firefighters and the community.

“We were deeply disappointed that Airservices Australia blocked the Union’s Freedom of Information requests on PFAS contamination at 26 airports across Australia, no less than four times.

“PFAS is a dangerous toxin that is contained in firefighting foam and has been widely used on training grounds at airports right across Australia for many years, in at least 26 locations, possibly more.”

“PFAS foam was used on sloping ground with little regard to safely containing the run off. These toxic chemicals may have ended up in water supplies, or waterways where fishing and farming activity took place.

“Aviation Firefighters and local communities surrounding those airports have a right to know what risks they have been exposed to.

“Airservices has stridently opposed our attempts to access further information and as a result we have lodged complaints with the Office of the Information Commissioner.”

“We call on Airservices Australia to immediately release the requested information on PFAS contamination at airports across Australia.”

“PFAS contamination at airbases and airports is now a national health issue that will require transparency and decisive, co-operative effort to resolve.”

Meanwhile, Federal Opposition leader Bill Shorten said Labor has called on the Federal Government to respond to the escalating PFAS contamination issue across Australia.

“The report suggested the number of PFAS affected Defence and civilian sites across Australia now stands at 70,” Mr Shorten said.

“There has been no statement from the Minister for Defence on the Defence sites.

“There has been no statement from the Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister on the civilian sites. 

“The Turnbull Government’s silence on PFAS contamination is deafening.

“The Turnbull Government announced it was working on a 'solution' in May. 

“Six months on, what is it and where is it?”