Firefighting training with foam containing PFAS at Melbourne's Tullamarine airport in 1998.
Firefighting training with foam containing PFAS at Melbourne's Tullamarine airport in 1998.

Airservices 'blocked firies seeking foam facts'

THE aviation branch of the United Firefighters Union has accused Airservices Australia of consistently blocking union attempts to learn the nature and extent of contamination caused by a firefighting foam widely used at 26 airports across the nation.

An ABC Four Corners investigation aired this week found similar contamination at air bases had been covered up by the Department of Defence.

UFU aviation branch secretary Henry Lawrence said that on no less than four occasions, Airservices had blocked the union's Freedom of Information requests about PFAS contamination and the risks posed to firefighters.

"PFAS is a dangerous toxin that is contained in firefighting foam and has been widely used on training grounds at airports right across Australia for many years, in at least 26 locations, possibly more,” he said.

"PFAS foam was used on sloping ground with little regard to safely containing the run-off. These toxic chemicals may have ended up in water supplies or waterways where fishing and farming activity took place.

"Aviation firefighters and local communities surrounding those airports have a right to know what risks they have been exposed to.”

Mr Lawrence said the union had lodged complaints with the Office of the Information Commissioner over Airservices' failure to release information.

"PFAS contamination at airbases and airports is now a national health issue that will require transparency and decisive, co-operative effort to resolve,” he said.

"Airservices must understand that the time for obfuscation has passed.”



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