In February last year, an in-principal settlement was reached between the Federal Government and residents of three communities which had their groundwater contaminated by toxic firefighting foams used at defence bases until the early 2000s.
According to Leanne O’Brien, Corrs Chambers Westgarth, while the resolution of this case was welcome to many, it does little to clarify the legal position of those who have been affected by PFAS, including developers, earthmoving contractors, local governments and landowners and operators of facilities where PFAS has been used or accepted.
“PFAS are emerging contaminants that give rise to a variety of practical issues associated with an evolving regulatory regime,” O’Brien said.
“We are working closely with government and Industry to continue to find solutions to these problems while navigating the broad ranging technical and legal challenges arising from PFAS contaminants.”
PFAS are emerging contaminants which pose one of the biggest challenges for business while governments continue to develop their regulatory response on how to manage these chemicals which are persistent and widespread in the environment.
These challenges include the categorisation of waste impacted by PFAS, its transport, treatment and waste disposal.
Recently, significant delays on the West Gate Tunnel project and surrounding controversies around treatment and disposal options are foregrounding the complex problem of PFAS.
To help clarify the issue, WRIQ has partnered with law firm Corrs Chambers Westgarth to host a masterclass on the current and emerging issues around PFAS including the regulatory response in Australia.
”These challenges impact such a broad range of stakeholders. It’s a growing problem and will only become more complicated. It’s important we are all on the same page understanding these issues,” WRIQ CEO Mark Smith said.
“WRIQ is putting on this event but has extended access to AORA, WRISA, WRIWA and WRINT members.
“I believe the session Corrs Chambers Westgarth has crafted will provided attendees insights into not just the regulotry responses but also how and why the judiciary is responding to the challenge.”
The masterclass will include an overview of PFAS chemicals and their unique characteristics, as well as a summary of developing regulatory responses in Australia and litigation in Australia and internationally.
Attendees will also hear a recap on the evolution of the PFAS National Environmental Management Plan as the first harmonised guidance to PFAS management across the country, and an overview of issues and challenges associated with managing PFAS impacted wastes on the ground – sampling and assessment, categorisation, transport and waste tracking.
Finally, WRIQ and Corrs Chambers Westgarth will explore issues encountered by landfills in accepting PFAS impacted waste and leachate management, and provide an industry snapshot on treatment options for PFAS impacted waste.
Date: Thursday, 22 April
Time: 12:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Venue: Corrs Chambers Westgarth, 42/111 Eagle St, Brisbane City QLD
Cost: $350 (plus GST) for WRIQ members – $450 (plus GST) for non-members.
WRIQ, WRISA, WRINT, WRIWA and AORA members all receive member discounts for this session
Online access will be available at a reduced cost.