Brisbane Airport sues Airservices Australia in Supreme Court over PFAS contamination on its land

Airservices Australia has become the second government body in the country to be sued over the toxic firefighting chemicals that have sparked Williamtown’s contamination crisis. 

On Thursday, Brisbane Airport confirmed it had launched legal action against Airservices Australia in the Queensland Supreme Court, over contamination on its land from per- and poly- fluoroalkyl substances [PFAS].

The chemicals, suspected carcinogens, were formerly in firefighting foams used by Airservices Australia.

The government-owned entity was established in 1995 and provides firefighting services to 26 commercial airports across the country, including Brisbane Airport. 

An Airservices Australia spokeswoman said it was disappointed with Brisbane Airport Corporation’s decision to pursue court action, but remained willing to “work collaboratively with relevant parties to deal with these complex issues.” 

“Airservices is one of several tenants at Brisbane Airport who use firefighting foams for the protection of the travelling public, aircraft and facilities, and to our knowledge are the only organisation to have fully phased out the use of any products containing PFAS, having done so in 2010,” she said. 

She added that the organisation had since undertaken site assessments and implemented a research and development program.

“We have proactively worked to better understand the potential impact of this legacy issue, working closely with Brisbane Airport Corporation on this matter, along with the relevant Commonwealth and State health and environmental authorities,” she said. 

A spokesperson for Brisbane Airport Corporation said it was unable to comment while the matter was before the courts. 

Newcastle Airport relies on the neighbouring RAAF base for its firefighting operations. Residents in its vicinity have launched legal action against the Department of Defence for the devaluation of their properties and economic loss.