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Fire foam grace period

The grace period for phasing out fluorinated firefighting foams in South Australia ended on 30 January, and their use is now prohibited without an exemption.

Fluorinated foams contain PFAS, or per- and poly-fluoroalkalyl substances, which have also been used in a range of everyday domestic products including non-stick cookware, fabric stain protectors, and food packaging.

South Australia was the first state to ban PFAS in firefighting foams, announcing the change on 30 January 2018.

Industry was granted a two-year grace period to help it meet the requirements of the ban.

Seven sites, including large fuel stores and defence facilities, have applied for exemptions for an initial period of three years. Six have been granted, and the seventh is currently being processed.

The transition to fluorine-free firefighting foams can be a complex one at large sites, as they can have kilometres of piping to clean out or replace, and safety must not be compromised during the changeover.

The EPA is satisfied that if the sites are operated and managed in accordance with the conditions of the exemptions, it is unlikely environmental harm could occur.

All operators who were granted exemptions were required to enter into an EIP with agreed milestones to ensure the transition progresses.


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