$1.4M from Budget to hold polluters responsible for firefighting foam pollution
The Palaszczuk Government will hold polluters responsible for investigating and managing contamination caused by toxic firefighting foam.
Environment Minister Steven Miles said an extra $1.4 million in the 2017-18 State Budget has been committed to strengthen the management of historical firefighting foam pollution.
“Queensland is adamant that firefighting foams containing highly persistent organic pollutants—including perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) implicated in the contamination of the Oakey Defence base—need to be phased out,” Mr Miles said.
“This new funding will assist the State’s environmental regulator in targeting areas at environmental risk.
“We will require that any existing stocks of foams containing PFOS and PFOA that present a risk are withdrawn from service at commercial and industrial premises, and similar products phased out and replaced, as soon as practicable with more sustainable alternatives.
“Once high risk sites are identified under the State’s jurisdiction, sites will be prioritised for further management.”
The Environment Minister said the Budget funding would also create two additional frontline jobs.
“Recruitment will begin for two new officers to join the office of the environmental regulator to get this work underway as quickly as possible,” Mr Miles said.
“The officers will work with Queensland environmental compliance officers to target areas of risk and support operational responses.
“The Department of Environment and Heritage Protection will pinpoint firefighting foam stocks across Queensland and the focus will be on industrial ports and bulk storage facilities which hold large stocks of the foam for use in emergency situations.”
To date around 900 operators in industries likely to use firefighting foams have been surveyed by the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection to determine the types of foams held at their facilities.
Industries surveyed include: chemical manufacturing, chemical storage, oil refining, bulk fuel storage, fuel burning, alcohol production, foundry operations, and major hazard facilities.
“It is important we have accurate information about the location of stored firefighting foam so we can phase-out banned stocks,” Mr Miles said.
“In the meantime the Department will work hard to educate businesses on best practice as Queensland industries transition towards more sustainable foams.”