2019 September: Sunshine Coast Council to Pump PFAS into Ocean. (Queensland)

Ratepayers’ huge bill for half a gram of PFAS


September 3 2019

FIGURES released by Sunshine Coast Council show it will spend $2.5 million to pump half a gram of the pollutant PFAS  to sea in 125 million litres of water now ponded on the runway construction site.

“The ocean release proposed is completely safe for the environment. It is safe for fish and other sea life. It is safe for humans,” a council representative said.

“The PFAS National Environmental Management Plan allows for up to 87.5 grams in 125 megalitres of water discharged to the ocean.

“If treatment of any water is found to be necessary, the water will pass through a four-stage treatment process involving a sand filter, a zeolite filter, a granulated activated carbon filter and finally an ionised resin filter.”

Meanwhile the Queensland Government’s environmental regulator says it will not intervene if PFAS (perfluorooctanesulfonic acid, an anthropogenic fluorosurfactant and global pollutant) concentrations in water remain below those stipulated under the National Environment Management Plan benchmark as safe for recreational activity.

The position is not one shared by Sunshine Coast residents following the announcement that the water would be pumped to sea from mid-October once the pipeline was built.

Nearly 4000 signatures have already been secured for a Change.org online petition calling for the council to rethink the plan.

Representatives from Maroochy North Shore board rider and surf clubs, environmental groups and the Surfrider Foundation will meet this Wednesday night to share their concerns.

Surfrider Foundation president Stephen James the intent was to make a joint approach to the council for full detail of what is proposed.

A Department of Environment and Science representative said the council had produced a fact sheet saying it would release water whose PFAS concentration was 200 times below the level still considered safe for recreation.

“In terms of monitoring, the allowable level of PFAS contamination is 0.7 ug/L and this will be the trigger value for any intervention by the department,” the representative said.

“Levels below this figure will not be a cause for concern.”

“Overall, the risk to humans and animals from PFAS contaminated-water being released in this instance is ‘minimal’ – meaning very small and insignificant.

“In the case of human exposure, the concentration of PFAS in contaminated water from the Sunshine Coast Airport expansion project site is below 0.7ug/L. This is below nationally agreed primary contact recreation guidelines.

“The figure 0.7 ug/l (micrograms per litre) equates to 0.0007 milligrams of contamination per litre of water.

“This is an exceedingly small concentration that will readily be diluted within ocean waters, and which people will not be drinking.

“The Sunshine Coast Regional Council will be monitoring this as part of its biota monitoring to comply with the PFAS National Environmental Management Plan.”