Melbourne Airport says the PFAS contamination which has spread beyond its boundaries poses a low risk to public health.
The airport confirmed it had detected levels of PFOS/PFHxS in Arundel Creek which exceed 0.07 micrograms per litre. The PFAS National Environmental Management Plan lists any quantity of PFOS/PFHxS over 0.07 micrograms as potentially harmful to humans.
However Melbourne Airport spokesperson Grant Smith said the airport’s investigation had determined that the health risks were low.
“We’ve conducted a number of risk assessments that indicate any likelihood of human health impact by PFAS contamination for landholders downstream from the airport is low, on the basis that local water courses are not connected to Melbourne’s drinking water,” he said.
“We have had this verified by Melbourne Water, and we believe the recent report released by the Chief Medical Officer reinforces our risk assessment of low risk to human health.”
Mr Smith said the airport was contacting landowners in the affected areas.
“We’re currently in the process of getting in touch with individual landholders to talk to them about our investigation, and how they’re using water on their properties,” he said.
“We have previously shared the preliminary results of our investigation with stakeholders including federal and state government bodies, local councils and our community advisory group which includes local residents representing communities around the airport.”
The investigation also found contaminated soil at the airport.
“Our investigation found PFAS is present across the airport in varying levels. In a few locations associated with the historical use of aqueous film forming foam, or AFFF, concentrations of PFAS in soil were found to exceed current Australian government guidelines,” Mr Smith said.
“From an estate-wide perspective our focus is on tackling the challenge of stopping identified pollution from leaving the airport through surface water or groundwater.
“As an interim solution we have been removing contaminated soil and containing it as we’ve come across it during construction works but we’re also looking at options for both long-term containment and treatment of contaminated soil as part of our work.”