Toxic soil standoff
PUSH FOR CONTAMINANT DIVERSION
THERE are calls for the Federal Government to store and use soil from the $2 billion Forrestfield Airport Link site, which is contaminated with toxic firefighting foams, for Perth Airport’s third runway project.
About 900,000 cubic metres of excavated soil from the 8km railway tunnel linking Perth Airport and Forrestfield will be temporarily stockpiled on a foothills industrial site until the Public Transport Authority can find a permanent solution.
PTA spokesman David Hynes said low levels of per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) were detected during routine soil testing in 2015.
“At present, options to dispose of soil that contains PFAS, irrespective of the levels, are limited,” he said.
“The PTA has been working with Perth Airport with a view to them taking the bulk of the soil for fill for its proposed third runway and other developments.
“To date, the Commonwealth Government has not agreed to the transfer of the soil, including that excavated from under airport land, to the airport site for storage and later use.”
Airservices Australia, the Federal Government-owned corporation responsible for firefighting at airports, said investigations to date had not confirmed any link between PFAS contamination at the Forrestfield-Airport Link site and the foam used at the airport.
“In 2016, Airservices commenced a preliminary site investigation to identify potential legacy sources on the airport,” a spokesman said.
“Airservices has undertaken targeted sampling on the airport and the final report with results is scheduled to be completed by the end of this year.
“The results will be shared with Perth Airport and Commonwealth and WA regulators to determine appropriate next steps.”
The City of Kalamunda said it was briefed on the contamination prior to approving the development application in July to temporarily store the soil on PTA-owned land in Forrestfield.
“The City must be notified if levels of PFAS within the soil are found to exceed threshold limits,” a City spokeswoman said.
“The soil is being stored in accordance with current environmental management practices and a suite of project-specific environmental management plans.”
Mr Hynes said he hoped the PFAS National Environmental Management Plan being developed by the National Chemicals Working Group of the Heads of EPAs Australia and New Zealand would provide guidance on the reuse of soil containing minor concentrations of PFAS.
A Perth Airport spokesman called on the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development to speed up developmentent of regulations to manage and ultimately remediate PFAS contamination.