A firefighting foam containing chemicals which resist heat, oil, stains and water has been banned across NSW in a continued bid to avoid environmental contamination, with an exception made for special, necessary circumstances.
Environment minister Matt Kean announced the use of PFAS firefighting foam would be prohibited for all training and demonstration purposes on Monday, but noted the ban shouldn't impact firefighters' capacity to contain and extinguish blases.
PFAS stands for per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances which are manufactured chemicals and used in many products around the world - household and mining products among them - and firefighting foam is one of the key causes of PFAS contamination in NSW.
"Firefighting foam is the key cause for PFAS contamination ... with concetrations detected at airports, defence sites, emergency service facilities, training facilities, major hazard facilities and their surrounding environments," Mr Kean said.
"This ban on PFAS firefighting foam will significantly reduce the impact on our environment but still enable our emergency agencies to fight catastrophic fires that can have devastating impacts on life and property.
"We have already seen some businesses and government agencies voluntarily phase out PFAS foam in their products and practices.
"These changes will make the phase out mandatory across NSW, and is a key step to bring our atate into line with Australia's National PFAS Position Statement."
The ban is part of an amendment to the Protection of Environment Operations Regulation and comes into effect from March onward.
It will also restrict the use of long-chain PFAS firefighting foam along with the sale and use of PFAS firefighting foam in portable extinguishers, from September 2022.
The changes have been informed by extensive consultation with emergency agencies and industry stakeholders and will be rolled out over a period of almost two years to allow adequate time for systems and practices to change.
Exemptionswill be available if a business has valid cause to continue the use of certain PFAS foams, and some exceptions apply. More information is available at www.epa.nsw.gov.au/pfasregulation
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