PFAS Management at Melbourne Airport
As part of its ongoing environmental management in accordance with its Environment Strategy and the Airports Act and regulations, Melbourne Airport is assessing and monitoring PFAS contamination on airport property and is working closely with stakeholders including the airport’s major tenants and the Commonwealth Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities on management options.
What are PFAS?
Per- and poly- fluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS) are manufactured chemicals which are found in soils, surface water and groundwater in most urban areas and are often commonly concentrated at places like airports. Historically at airports, one of the uses of PFAS has been in firefighting foam (known as aqueous film forming foam (AFFF) of the type needed for petroleum fuel fires or spills. At the airport, AFFF has been used in responding to – and training for – firefighting emergencies.
PFAS are persistent chemicals which do not break down easily. While no conclusive evidence has been found so far of PFAS exposure causing adverse human health impacts, research in this area is ongoing.
What is Melbourne Airport doing about PFAS?
Environmental monitoring has identified the presence of PFAS contamination at the airport. Melbourne Airport is conducting detailed environmental investigations to better understand the extent of that contamination, and will keep stakeholders and the community updated about PFAS management.
Melbourne Airport is working with airport tenants to phase out the use of the AFFF containing PFAS at the airport (a commitment that Qantas has already made), and is liaising closely with the Commonwealth Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities and other relevant authorities in relation to the management of PFAS contamination from AFFF use at the airport.