“Ports are moving to dispose of firefighting foam containing the suspected carcinogen PFOS in advance of a federal government decision on when and how to phase it out.

Ports in Queensland and South Australia have disposed of all foams containing PFOS and an associated compound, PFOA, or are doing so, in line with state phase-outs that started in 2016, Ports Australia says.

In other states, the ports of Newcastle, Fremantle and Esperance have ‘moved towards world-leading practices’ and no longer hold or use foams containing PFOS and PFOA, according to the peak body.

Ports continue to hold about 70,000 to 80,000 litres of such foam excluding any stocks remaining in Queensland and South Australia, it says.

In a submission to the federal Department of Environment and Energy, Ports Australia urges the Australian government to ratify the Stockholm Convention amendment on PFOS and cease all non-essential uses.

‘This action cannot come soon enough given the significant health and environmental impacts related to the use of firefighting foam that have been brought to light,’ it says.

The submission is in response to the department’s regulation impact statement canvassing industry views on a national phase-out of PFOS, which would follow Australia’s ratification of the amendment…

The Ports Australia submission notes the department’s view that evidence is still evolving regarding environmental and health impacts but adds there is ‘significant and clear evidence on the devastating impact to animals … given that this evidence includes impact on marine life, which potentially is being consumed by humans, there is significant need for action’.

It also notes ‘high-profile anecdotal evidence on the impact on human health’ stemming from PFAS contamination of residential land around defence airports at Williamtown in NSW and Oakey in Queensland.”

Read the full article by Chris Ray