As discussed in our recent PFAS update on 20 March 2019, Per and Poly-Fluroalkyl Substances (PFAS) present an increasing risk to human health and the environment. In response to the risk, the Queensland Government has been working with industry to phase out the use of PFAS containing firefighting foams.
As of 7 July 2019, companies operating in Queensland are required to achieve full compliance with the Department of Environment and Science’s Operational Policy – Environmental Management of Firefighting Foam (Operational Policy). The Operational Policy can be found here.
The Operational Policy was first introduced in 2016 to manage and prevent potential adverse impacts from the use of firefighting foams, particularly PFAS variants. The policy requires any held stocks of foam containing PFOS and PFOA to be withdrawn from service as soon as practical and any held stocks secured and disposed as regulated waste.
Foam users were initially allowed to rely on interim measures to achieve compliance with the policy, such as temporary bunding and containment facilities for a spill or firewater. However, as of 7 July 2019 foam users are required to achieve full compliance with the Operational Policy.
In summary, compliance with the Operational Policy requires:
- Discontinued use of firefighting foams which contain long-chain persistent chemicals;
- Implementation of reasonable and practicable measures to prevent firefighting foams from being introduced to the environment by way of spill or incident response; and
- Preparation a waste disposal plan for the management and disposal of foam waste.
Foam users unable to achieve full compliance after 7 July 2019 must seek approval of an implementation plan and specific timelines under the Environmental Protection Act 1994 (QLD).
We will be monitoring the Government’s application of this policy and will update you accordingly.
If you have any questions or would like any further information in relation to the Operational Policy please contact Paul Lalich, Peter Bittner or Andrew Scully.
This article was written by Paul Lalich, Partner, Andrew Scully, Associate and Mitchell Wilson, Law Graduate.
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