Claim looms on council’s $40m airport PFAS clean-up
Sunshine Coast Council has sought legal advice on its $40 million PFAS clean-up bill following the major expansion of the airport.
A report updating progress on the $334 million airport expansion project revealed the council received legal opinion on several matters involving the expansion project.
It said legal opinion was sought in relation to the council’s contractual exposure to the effects of COVID-19 and the potential to lodge insurance claims for the impacts of per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination.
Council maintains ratepayers will not wear the costs of the contamination clean-up totalling $40.184 million for consultant reporting, investigations, testing and mitigation works.
The legal advice suggested a claim against the Project Construction Insurance for the contamination costs had “reasonable prospects”.
The council report said a formal claim would be completed.
A council spokesman said the costs associated with the clean-up were met from within the airport expansion project budget.
The council was aware of PFAS issues at the airport since 2010 but the problem arose during construction when a deluge left ponded water up to 1m deep in parts.
Management measures included installation of a 22 million litre water tank onsite.
A $2.5 million pipeline was planned to be built to drain ponded water from the site under David Low Way and out to sea, but was not required.
The council funded the airport expansion project with borrowings from the Queensland Treasury Corporation.
Airport leaseholder Palisade Investment Partners is due to pay the council $372 million as part of a repayment plan by 2022.
A council spokesman said there was a “clear agreement” with Palisade in place and they had not received any requests to reconsider the current terms.
The recently released report also said the Department of Environment and Science wanted eight lots within the project area on the Environmental Management Register due to the contamination.
The report said management of PFAS contaminated soils was almost finished.
The airport upgrade was forecast to contribute $4.1 billion to the economy between 2020 and 2040 and allow for new flight routes and larger planes.
The Sunshine Coast Airport Expansion Project – Project Update report will be presented to councillors at Thursday’s council meeting.