Friday, January 21, 2022

Firefighting foam banned except in catastrophy, special conditions

PFAS firefighting foam has been banned for use in NSW except in catastrophic circumstances or where there are special circumstances.

Environment Minister Matt Kean said that firefighting foam containing per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) will be banned for all training and demonstration purposes in NSW from next month.

“Firefighting foam is the key cause of PFAS contamination in the NSW environment with concentrations detected at airports, defence sites, emergency service facilities, training facilities, major hazard facilities, and their surrounding environments,” Mr Kean said.

“This ban on PFAS firefighting foam will significantly reduce the impact on our environment but still enable our emergency agencies to fight catastrophic fires that can have devastating impacts on life and property.”

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The Protection of the Environment Operations (General) Amendment (PFAS Firefighting Foam) Regulation 2021 includes:

  • banning the use of any PFAS firefighting foam for training and demonstration purposes from March 2021;
  • restricting the use of long-chain PFAS firefighting foam from September 2022; and,
  • restricting the use and sale of PFAS firefighting foam in portable fire extinguishers from September 2022.

“We have already seen some businesses and government agencies voluntarily phase out PFAS foam in their products and practices,” Mr Kean.

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“These changes will make the phase out mandatory across NSW, and is a key step to bring our State into line with Australia’s National PFAS Position Statement.”

The changes have been informed by extensive consultation with emergency agencies and industry stakeholders, and will be introduced in stages over the next 19 months to allow adequate time for systems and practices to be changed.

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Exemptions will be available if a business has valid cause to continue the use of certain PFAS foams, and some exceptions apply. More information is available at www.epa.nsw.gov.au/pfasregulation

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