Toxic chemicals found in firefighting foam previously used at the Gold Coast Airport have spread to the boundary of the site.
Toxic chemicals found in firefighting foam previously used at the Gold Coast Airport have spread to the boundary of the site. Chris Ison ROK040516cfire1

Airservices to test for contamination in Cobaki

AIRSERVICES Australia (ASA) will begin testing seafood species in Cobaki Broadwater for signs of contamination after a report confirmed toxic chemicals were leeching into soil and water near the Gold Coast Airport.

Environmental consultants GHD, which prepared a report released in November, will undertake the testing with the New South Wales Environment Protection Authority (EPA) and Department of Primary Industries - Fisheries.

Previous reports confirmed the same chemicals as those at the centre of the Oakey water contamination scandal in Queensland were detected at several sites on the airport's boundary.

The chemicals, perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), were used in firefighting foam at the airport until 2010 and both are suspected carcinogens.

EPA requested in November ASA conduct further testing to determine any potential risks to the environment and human health.

The Cobaki Broadwater is a popular fishing and kayaking spot adjacent to Gold Coast Airport that links with Terranora Creek.

In a statement released today, ASA said:

"The sampling which starts (January 24), takes several days and will investigate sediment, surface water and seafood species within the Cobaki Broadwater area, adjacent to the airport.

"The sampling will include five sediment samples, five surface water samples and collection of six seafood species for testing.

"Independent environmental consultant, GHD Pty Ltd will manage the project in consultation with (EPA) and Department of Primary Industries - Fisheries.

"Airservices will share the results, which are expected to be available from March, with relevant Commonwealth and State environmental and health regulators and Gold Coast Airport Pty Ltd as part of our ongoing work with these stakeholders in taking a risk-based approach to responsibly managing PFAS concerns at the Gold Coast Airport.”

It said it would then work with Commonwealth and Sstate agencies to determine how it will keep the community informed.

Cobaki Broadwater feeds into Terranora Creek.
Cobaki Broadwater feeds into Terranora Creek. Google Maps

ASA was first warned of the chemicals and potential health and environmental consequences in a 2008 report that was only made public last year.

The initial report confirmed the presence of the chemicals above Environmental Health Standing Committee recommended guidelines at the on-site firefighting training ground and the old fire station.

The most recent report revealed the chemicals had spread to the edge of the airport's land holding, indicating the contamination was moving off-site but ASA strategic stakeholder manager Nick Edwards said at the time the levels detected were low.

Some of the levels exceeded drinking water standards but not recreational standards, and PFAS weren't at that time found in the Cobaki waterway.

For the November-released report, investigators took samples from 31 locations within the airport boundary, testing soil, ground water and surface water for the presence of PFOS and PFOA.

It was found the chemicals were well above enHealth's recommended limits at the firefighting training ground and the old fire station site on the eastern boundary, but they had become diluted the further they were removed from the original source.

Local residents seeking specific health advice should talk to their GP. Further information on PFAS related issues can be found at:

  • Airservices Australia - http://www.airservicesaustralia.com/environment/firefightingfoam/
  • Queensland: https://www.qld.gov.au/environment/pollution/management/investigation-pfas/ or call 13HEALTH (13 43 25 84).
  • New South Wales http://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/MediaInformation/pfcinvestigation.htm or the Environment Line on 131 555.


Jon prepares to lose his locks on his own terms

Jon prepares to lose his locks on his own terms

Bilambil man to cut dreadlocks to raise money for cancer

Sunny weekend set for the Tweed

Sunny weekend set for the Tweed

It's set to be a sunny weekend for the Tweed.

Tweed sporting clubs encouraged to apply for federal funding

Tweed sporting clubs encouraged to apply for federal funding

Clubs encouraged to apply for up to $500,000 worth of funding.

Local Partners