National PFAS management
Airservices is committed to the responsible management of PFAS resulting from our historical use of PFAS-containing fire fighting foams at airports where we provide aviation rescue and fire fighting services.
We manage PFAS to ensure the safety of our people, and the communities and environment in which we operate.
We are taking action through a National PFAS Management Program that includes site investigations, monitoring, management actions and, where appropriate, remediation.
We work closely with Australian, State and Territory regulators, airport owners and operators, and research institutions to manage the impacts of our historical use of PFAS.
What are PFAS?
PFAS stands for per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, which are manufactured chemicals used in products that resist heat, oil, stains and water. PFAS has been used in Australia and around the world in many household and speciality products.
In the past, fire fighting foams containing PFAS were used by Airservices and other fire fighting organisations due to their effectiveness in fighting liquid fuel fires.
When Airservices became aware of the potential environmental impacts of PFAS in the early 2000s, we transitioned away from PFAS-containing foams. Airservices has been using PFAS-free foams at civilian airports since 2010.
Airservices provides an Aviation Rescue and Fire Fighting Service (ARFFS) at 27 of Australia’s busiest airports.
Airservices began providing ARFFS at five of these locations – Ballina, Coffs Harbour, Gladstone, Newman, and Proserpine – only after we started using PFAS-free foams in 2010.
Of the remaining 22 locations, early investigations determined there was no PFAS attributable to our operations at Hamilton Island or Broome airports, and Darwin and Townsville airports are joint-user facilities where the Department of Defence is leading investigations.
The remaining 18 locations are subject to investigation by Airservices, including:
- Australian Capital Territory – Canberra
- New South Wales – Sydney
- Northern Territory – Alice Springs, Yulara
- Queensland – Brisbane, Cairns, Gold Coast, Mackay, Rockhampton, Sunshine Coast
- South Australia – Adelaide
- Tasmania - Hobart, Launceston
- Victoria – Avalon, Melbourne
- Western Australia – Karratha, Perth, Port Hedland
Further information on investigations at these locations is available on Engage Airservices.
Management actions and remediation
We are undertaking a number of activities to manage legacy PFAS on our leased areas including responsible management actions to clean and treat wastewater, stormwater and drains and remove stockpiles that may be a source of PFAS, as well as identifying opportunities for remediation works.
We have identified the former fire fighting training ground at Launceston Airport and the Satellite Fire Station at Brisbane Airport as sites for remediation. Planning for the remediation activities is underway with works expected to commence in early 2023 and take approximately 12 months to complete.
This activity seeks to address PFAS in concrete and soil by removing impacted infrastructure and soil and disposing of it via an appropriate waste disposal facility.
Airservices will continue identifying further opportunities for remediation works at locations where we historically used PFAS-containing fire fighting foams. This is an ongoing and dynamic process which considers factors such as site investigation outcomes, environmental risk, and operational risk, including the impact on airport operations.
Research and development
To better understand PFAS and develop practical, risk-based solutions to the challenges it presents, we have made significant investments in research and development with industry and university groups.
Our PFAS Research and Development program includes initiatives aimed at:
- Gaining a better understanding of the behaviour of PFAS in the environment
- Supporting initiatives to establish screening criteria for ecological, human health and waste management
- Developing treatments to remove PFAS from impacted materials.
Information about our research and development initiatives is available at Engage Airservices.
Work with us
Airservices is at the forefront of Australian aviation. We are uniquely connected to all parts of the industry and offer exciting and innovative work across a range of operational and corporate roles.
Career paths on offer at Airservices include
Air Traffic Control, Aviation Rescue Fire Fighting, information technology, corporate support and more.