Release

Airservices results of PFAS investigation at Mackay Airport

1 Aug 2019

Airservices Australia today released the results of its on-airport Preliminary Site Investigation (PSI) into per- and polyfluoroalkyl substance (PFAS) contamination at its leased sites on Mackay Airport. The PSI is part of a national PFAS Management Program and was conducted by independent consultants GHD Pty Ltd.

The PSI detected PFAS on airport, in close proximity to the leased sites where Airservices carried out its fire service activities prior to 2010, when it transitioned to a PFAS-free foam, and at other locations not associated with Airservices activities.

The PSI report indicated PFAS was detected at low levels in soils and sediments. The PSI also indicated PFAS was detected in groundwater and surface water on-airport above human health guidelines indicating further investigations were required. However the report noted it was unlikely that groundwater onsite or in the vicinity is extracted for potable purposes.

Airservices commissioned further, targeted investigations to better characterise PFAS on and off-airport including offsite sampling of sediment, surface water and biota in Shellgrit Creek. A water survey was also commissioned of neighbouring properties to the south and east of the Airport.

The targeted offsite sampling showed PFAS detected above human health guidelines in fish sampled in Shellgrit Creek adjacent to the airport. The exact source of the PFAS is unknown as there has been other historical users of PFAS products at the airport.

Airservices notified the Mackay Airport and the Queensland state regulator so that appropriate action can be taken. The results of the water survey indicated there are no known properties in the south and east of the airport using groundwater bores for drinking water or irrigation. The report of these further investigations will be published on Airservices’ website when complete.

We have engaged extensively with the Airport and the regulators as part of our investigation of PFAS at Mackay Airport and will continue to do so, as part of a risk-based approach to responsibly manage PFAS at Mackay Airport.

Airservices is undertaking a Detailed Site Investigation at Mackay Airport and this is expected to commence later this year.

Airservices stopped using fire-fighting foam containing PFAS at the airport in 2010.

The PSI is published here.

More information

Airservices Australia – Airport-specific information:
http://www.airservicesaustralia.com/environmental/national-pfas-management-program

Commonwealth Department of Health – Per and Poly-fluroalkyl substances (PFAS):
http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/content/ohp-pfas.htm

Commonwealth PFAS website: http://www.pfas.gov.au/

DES Queensland – PFAS Contamination: https://www.des.qld.gov.au/