A significant spill of firefighting foam at Brisbane airport has contaminated nearby waterways, killing fish and prompting warnings to recreational anglers.
About 22,000 litres of the foam leaked in a Qantas hangar on Monday, the Queensland government confirmed.
About three-quarters was kept within the hangar’s containment system but an undisclosed quantity entered the airport’s stormwater system.
The chemicals have contaminated the lower reaches of the Brisbane river. The impacted areas stretch from Bulimba creek to Fisherman Island, and further north to Shorncliffe.
About 20 dead fish were discovered within the airport’s boundaries. The Queensland government has linked their deaths to the spill.
The foam is believed to have contained perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), which is part of the human-made chemical group of per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The chemicals do not easily break down in the environment or humans, according to advice from the New South Wales health department.
Health authorities are warning recreational fishers to avoid the area as a precaution. Queensland’s chief health officer, Jeannette Young, said people should avoid eating seafood from nearby areas.