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Firefighting foam management policy

Since 2016, the Queensland Government has been working with industry to phase out firefighting foams containing per-and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) chemicals, which are harmful to the environment.

Anyone who handles, transports, disposes, stores, uses, or releases firefighting foams in Queensland must meet the standards set out in the Queensland Government Environmental Management of Firefighting Foam policy (PDF, 276KB).

Read the policy overview for a background summary about why this policy exists, key requirements under the policy, and how to manage firefighting foam waste and disposal.

The policy comes into effect 7 July 2019.

Environmental concerns

No firefighting foam is environmentally friendly. All foams have potential adverse effects, and risks are specific to the situation and location. The combination of chemicals used in firefighting foams can have short- and long-term impacts on biota, soils and waterways through their persistence, bioaccumulation, toxicity and oxygen demand.

All reasonable effort should be made to prevent their release to the environment, particularly waterways. Read more information on persistent chemicals within some firefighting foams.

Requirements for foam users

If you’re a Queensland operator that has firefighting foam on-site you need to ensure you are in compliance with the Environmental Management of Firefighting Foam policy (PDF, 276KB), and have updated firefighting foam products and practices in place.

To comply with the policy:

If you have questions or concerns about being in compliance, email the Queensland Government’s PFAS Project Team at pfasprojectteam@des.qld.gov.au.

The Queensland Government will monitor compliance with the firefighting foam policy at business facilities where Queensland laws apply.

Transition to policy compliance 2016–2019

There was a three-year transition to the Environmental Management of Firefighting Foam—Operational Policy between 2016 and 2019, which included the following actions:

Industry education program

In 2018, the Queensland Government launched an industry program to educate operators on the environmental risks associated with PFAS firefighting foams and support their transition under the policy.

During 2018 and 2019, environmental officers across Queensland conducted more 150 industry site visits to provide educational support to assist operators in adopting more sustainable products and practices.

Read the industry education program summary report (PDF, 827KB).

Industry survey

A voluntary industry survey was conducted from February to May 2017 to determine the status of PFAS firefighting foam stocks in Queensland. The survey was sent to 992 recipients and a total of 468 responses were received.

The information helped inform decisions on implementing the Environmental Management of Firefighting Foam—Operational Policy.

Read the survey results summary (PDF, 694KB).

Industry seminar

In February 2017, an industry seminar was held in Brisbane for end-users of firefighting foam, and their service providers and consultants.

Featuring Australian and international subject-expert speakers, the seminar provided information on best-practice in the use of firefighting foam and state-wide regulatory obligations.

It covered environmental management, foam types and use, risk assessment, site contamination, sampling and assessment, remediation technologies, regulation and policy, waste management, case studies and more.