Per and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) at Sunshine Coast Airport
Sunshine Coast Airport is committed to being a responsible airport operator, particularly when it comes to our environmental impact and stewardship of airport land and the natural environment around us.
PFAS have been found in soil and water at airports around Australia, including Sunshine Coast Airport. The levels of PFAS at Sunshine Coast Airport are very low and almost undetectable; these levels are safe for people using and working on airport land, our neighbours and the environment.
Sunshine Coast Airport has developed a PFAS Management Plan that applies to all construction and maintenance activities at the Airport. This plan has been provided to the Queensland Government’s Department of Environment and Science.
As part of the PFAS Management Plan, we have a comprehensive groundwater and surface water sampling and testing program (PFAS monitoring program).
PFAS at Sunshine Coast Airport
PFAS are a group of manufactured chemicals that are resistant to heat and repel water and oil. They have been used since the 1950s in a range of common household products and industrial applications such as firefighting foams at airports, ports and other industrial facilities to extinguish fuel-based fires.
Since 1970, firefighting foams containing PFAS were used extensively in Australia and globally, due to their effectiveness in fighting liquid fuel fires. Airservices Australia is responsible for aviation firefighting and they stopped using PFAS in firefighting foam at Sunshine Coast Airport in 2010.
PFAS have been found in soil and water across most airports around Australia. PFAS levels at Sunshine Coast Airport are very low because the airport was not used for firefighting training, only for emergency response events.
Sunshine Coast Airport’s PFAS Management Plan
Sunshine Coast Airport’s PFAS Management Plan outlines how PFAS will be safely managed at the Airport and has been written in alignment with the PFAS National Environmental Management Plan (NEMP v2.0), a guidance document developed by the Heads of Environmental Protection Agencies and endorsed by Environment Ministers across all Australian jurisdictions.
We have an ongoing PFAS monitoring program, allowing us to take an informed, evidence-driven approach to PFAS management.
Over the coming years we have plans to develop our airport. We will double the size of our domestic terminal and expand our Aerospace Precinct to allow for growth of existing general aviation businesses. We will also start to develop our Southern Gateway commercial precinct bringing new jobs onto our Airport and injecting an economic uplift into our wider region.
Sunshine Coast Airport requires its contractors to implement PFAS management measures and monitor their activities in accordance with the PFAS National Environmental Management Plan and the associated Sunshine Coast Airport PFAS Management Plan. This includes guidelines for the management of water reuse, stockpiling and soil relocation.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)
We have prepared some frequently asked questions to help our community understand how we manage the very low levels of PFAS at the Airport.
How does Sunshine Coast Airport manage PFAS?
Sunshine Coast Airport is committed to responsible management of PFAS on its land. We have developed a PFAS Management Plan that applies to all construction and maintenance activities on the airport. The PFAS Management Plan has been written in alignment with the PFAS National Environmental Management Plan.
We are committed to working closely with key stakeholders and following all relevant environmental, health and safety guidelines in managing PFAS on airport land.
How does Sunshine Coast Airport monitor PFAS?
Sunshine Coast Airport has an ongoing PFAS monitoring program across various locations. This allows us to take an informed, evidence-driven approach to PFAS management.
What levels of PFAS have been recorded at the Airport?
PFAS at Sunshine Coast Airport are at very low levels – close to the respective base limit of detection. PFAS levels are much lower than at other major regional and capital city airports around the country where PFAS has been investigated.
Airservices Australia provides the firefighting services at the Airport, and they continue to undertake targeted site investigations of the areas near the former firefighting station and along the Airport’s eastern boundary. Reports available on the Air Services Australia website provide further information on these investigations.
How does Sunshine Coast Airport manage run-off from heavy rainfall events?
Following a significant rainfall and flood event in February 2022, monitoring confirmed results are similar to previous monitoring events.
For future high rainfall events we will continue to monitor and assess risk and impact to the environment and take an appropriate course of action in line with our PFAS Management Plan.
What is the risk of PFAS at the Airport on the community and environment?
PFAS have been found in soil and water at airports around Australia. The very low levels of PFAS on Sunshine Coast Airport land are much lower than all other airports around the country, where PFAS has been investigated. These very low levels of PFAS are safe for people using and working on airport land, our neighbours and the environment.