2017 April – Brisbane Seafood Alert (Queensland) – PFOA

Brisbane seafood alert after toxic foam spill at Brisbane Airport

April 14 2017 The Courier-Mail


PEOPLE have been warned to avoid fishing and eating seafood they catch off the coast of Brisbane following a deadly firefighting foam spillage this week.

An investigation has been launched after 22,000 litres of firefighting foam was released from a failed deluge system at the Brisbane Airport on Monday which is believed to be responsible for a small fish kill.

The Queensland Government has this morning confirmed the spillage which has affected an area stretching from Bulimba Creek to Shorncliffe.

Environment Minister Steven Miles said a joint State and Commonwealth investigation was now under way.

“On Tuesday 11 April, Qantas advised the Queensland Environment Department that a firefighting foam incident occurred on Monday 10 April around 9pm,” Mr Miles said.

“It is understood that foam entered waters within and adjacent to the airport. EHP officers from the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (EHP) attended the site on Tuesday and identified approximately 20 dead fish within the airport boundary and foaming surface water.

“While it is believed the foam is responsible for the small fish kill, EHP has taken fish samples as part of the investigation. EHP officers have also undertaken water sampling and are engaging with the responsible Commonwealth regulatory authorities to determine what further action might be needed to rehabilitate the affected environment.”

The spill has impacted waters near the airport, from Bulimba Creek to Fisherman Island and north to Shorncliffe, which is outside commercial fishing areas.

Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young said people should avoid recreational fishing in the area.

“I recommend people avoid eating seafood that was caught in the potentially contaminated area until the results of Environment Department testing are known,” Dr Young said.

“While there is currently no consistent evidence that PFOA exposure causes adverse health harm in humans, I understand this was a significant spill.

“Avoiding seafood consumption from the impacted area in the short term is a sensible, cautious approach.”

Mr Miles said Qantas confirmed 22,000 litres of firefighting foam was released within an airport hangar.

“While approximately three-quarters of the foam that spilled was captured within a hangar bunding system, some of the remaining foam appears to have escaped to the airport stormwater system and the wider environment.

“The foam was believed to have contained Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), one of the per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

“Failure to fully contain PFAS firefighting foams is contrary to Queensland Government policy, however the Brisbane Airport is a Commonwealth regulated site.

“As such, this is now a joint investigation between the Queensland and Commonwealth Governments.

“EHP was advised that Qantas engaged a specialist contractor to recover the waste released within the airport stormwater system.

“The recovered material is currently stored in a container on the airport land.

“EHP is also investigating the impacts of any foam entering the Luggage Point sewage treatment plant that also discharges to the Brisbane River.

“EHP officers attended the site again today (April 13) to continue monitoring the onsite response to the situation.”