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.
“I recommend people avoid eating seafood that was caught in the potentially contaminated area until the results of environment department testing are known,” Young said. “While there is currently no consistent evidence that PFOA exposure causes adverse health harm in humans, I understand this was a significant spill.”
The environment minister, Steven Miles, said a joint Queensland-commonwealth investigation had begun. “Failure to fully contain PFAS firefighting foams is contrary to Queensland government policy, however the Brisbane airport is a commonwealth-regulated site,” Miles said.
“As such, this is now a joint investigation between the Queensland and Commonwealth Governments,” he said.
Qantas issued a statement on Friday morning, saying it was investigating the leak. It said most of the chemical was contained but some had overflowed into a nearby creek.
“The creek was quickly bunded to stop the fire retardant from flowing downstream,” Qantas said. “We take our environmental responsibilities very seriously.
“We notified the Queensland Government and we’re working with Brisbane Airport on the clean-up and the investigation.”
Brisbane airport confirmed it was working with Qantas but directed further questions to the airline.
Qantas has engaged a specialist contractor to recover the waste and is storing recovered material in a container within the airport.
Queensland authorities are investigating the entry of foam into the Luggage Point sewage treatment plant, which discharges into the Brisbane river.
“EHP officers attended the site again today to continue monitoring the onsite response to the situation,” Miles said on Thursday.
Last year NSW authorities launched their own investigation of contaminated sites, including airports, firefighting training facilities and industrial sites.
PFOS and PFOA in the environment:
PFOS and PFOA are increasingly being phased out of modern foams. Concentrations in human blood appear to be decreasing in the US, although they are still rising in China.5 Today they remain significant residual contaminants at many sites globally, for example, at many of the world’s 49,000 airports (including 450 civilian and military airports in Australia).