A PFAS management plan is now in place to treat contaminated ground water controlled on the Sunshine Coast Airport runway construction site.
A PFAS management plan is now in place to treat contaminated ground water controlled on the Sunshine Coast Airport runway construction site.

PFAS plan in place to treat airport water

A MASSIVE storage tank is being constructed at Sunshine Coast Airport to hold water that requires treatment for PFAS chemicals before either discharge or re-use.

Heavy machinery work on the airport runway construction site came to a halt on May 3 with civil subcontractors required to remove equipment. At that point more than 200 mega litres of water lay contained across the site, unable to be released until a treatment plant was in place to manage it.

PFAS chemicals are accumulative in biota like prawns, crabs and fish and can affect their capacity to feed and breed. Experts say as a result it requires treatment up to a standard 300 times greater than that for drinking water.

The Department of Environment did not specify the level of treatment that was expected.

"The water being released is of an acceptable standard to ensure the protection of the environment," a spokesperson said in a written response. "DES undertakes regular inspections at the site to ensure Sunshine Coast Regional Council and its contractors are meeting their general environmental duty."

The spokesperson said the council had adopted appropriate release limits for species protection, and appropriate measures were in place to carry out risk assessments at the airport expansion site and surrounding environment including further sampling of fish and other species during the course of the project.

"The PFAS National Environmental Management Plan does provide default species protection guideline values, however also promotes site-specific risk assessments which the council is undertaking in this case."

A Sunshine Coast Council spokesperson said about 60 mega litres of the surface water had been gradually released since May 29 that satisfied "criteria and processes" set in the PFAS National Environmental Management Plan and by the Queensland Department of Environment and Science.

"Water that does not currently meet the standards for release will be pumped into a 22 mega litre storage tank that is currently being installed and is expected to be completed at the end of this month, weather permitting," a spokesperson said.

The spokesperson said planning was also under way to install a temporary water treatment plant which would treat water prior to testing and subsequent reuse within the site or release, subject to environmental standards being met.

"The water treatment plant will be in place for the remainder of the construction period," the spokesperson said.

The council said construction activities were continuing to progressively scale up, weather permitting.