Exploring alternatives for harmful firefighting foam

Environmental Protection Authority insists it should no longer be used.

Environmental Protection Authority insists it should no longer be used.

GISBORNE Airport is one of three regional airports with fire appliances equipped with a firefighting foam that contains a pollutant the Environmental Protection Authority insists should no longer be used.

The authority confirmed yesterday that fire trucks at Gisborne, Hawke’s Bay and Palmerston North airports contain PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonic acid) foam, which is harmful in the environment and may affect human health.

The EPA has served a compliance order on fire truck providers Task Protection Services Ltd as part of its inquiry into firefighting foams.

The three airports have been working with the EPA and Task Protection Services to find a viable alternative fire-fighting foam that is effective and able to be used with specialist equipment.

Eastland Group chief executive Matt Todd said they acted as soon as they were made aware of the issue.

Trials have been taking place with alternative foams and the New Zealand Airports Association, which Gisborne Airport was a part of, was working on a national collaborative response to the issue.

“The foam is only held in stock to be used in an emergency to save lives,” Mr Todd said.

Gisborne Airport has had a permanent fire rescue truck and emergency response crew on site since April last year.

“This service is provided by specialist contractors Task Protection Services, who deliver a similar service at several other regional airports,” Mr Todd said.

“In that time I can confirm that they have discharged no firefighting foam at the airport. As operators of Gisborne Airport, we take all environmental matters very seriously, and are working with Task Protection Services, the EPA and CAA to ensure the requirements of the compliance order are met.”

Task Protection Services manager Kim Reade said since becoming aware of the issue, the company had been working closely with airports, suppliers and the EPA to find a viable alternative fire-fighting foam to the one currently available that meets required CAA and ICAO standards,” she said.

“We will adhere to the conditions outlined in the compliance letter and move to a viable alternative as soon as one is available.

“We would like to see a national collaborative response to this issue and will work with airports and the Airports Association to achieve that,” she said.

“The foam is only held in stock to be used in an emergency to save lives.”

EPA chief executive Allan Freeth said testing work was ongoing.

“But in the interim, the airports may continue to use the foam for emergencies, in the interests of safety.”

Task Protection Services must submit a plan to the EPA by April 10, detailing steps that will be taken to ensure the foam is no longer used.

GISBORNE Airport is one of three regional airports with fire appliances equipped with a firefighting foam that contains a pollutant the Environmental Protection Authority insists should no longer be used.

The authority confirmed yesterday that fire trucks at Gisborne, Hawke’s Bay and Palmerston North airports contain PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonic acid) foam, which is harmful in the environment and may affect human health.

The EPA has served a compliance order on fire truck providers Task Protection Services Ltd as part of its inquiry into firefighting foams.

The three airports have been working with the EPA and Task Protection Services to find a viable alternative fire-fighting foam that is effective and able to be used with specialist equipment.

Eastland Group chief executive Matt Todd said they acted as soon as they were made aware of the issue.

Trials have been taking place with alternative foams and the New Zealand Airports Association, which Gisborne Airport was a part of, was working on a national collaborative response to the issue.

“The foam is only held in stock to be used in an emergency to save lives,” Mr Todd said.

Gisborne Airport has had a permanent fire rescue truck and emergency response crew on site since April last year.

“This service is provided by specialist contractors Task Protection Services, who deliver a similar service at several other regional airports,” Mr Todd said.

“In that time I can confirm that they have discharged no firefighting foam at the airport. As operators of Gisborne Airport, we take all environmental matters very seriously, and are working with Task Protection Services, the EPA and CAA to ensure the requirements of the compliance order are met.”

Task Protection Services manager Kim Reade said since becoming aware of the issue, the company had been working closely with airports, suppliers and the EPA to find a viable alternative fire-fighting foam to the one currently available that meets required CAA and ICAO standards,” she said.

“We will adhere to the conditions outlined in the compliance letter and move to a viable alternative as soon as one is available.

“We would like to see a national collaborative response to this issue and will work with airports and the Airports Association to achieve that,” she said.

“The foam is only held in stock to be used in an emergency to save lives.”

EPA chief executive Allan Freeth said testing work was ongoing.

“But in the interim, the airports may continue to use the foam for emergencies, in the interests of safety.”

Task Protection Services must submit a plan to the EPA by April 10, detailing steps that will be taken to ensure the foam is no longer used.

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