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EPA serves Compliance Order on Task Protection Services Ltd

EPA serves Compliance Order on Task Protection Services Ltd

The Environmental Protection Authority has served a Compliance Order on Task Protection Services Ltd, as part of its inquiry into fire-fighting foams, Chief Executive Dr Allan Freeth announced today.

“The EPA has issued the Compliance Order on the basis that Task Protection Services Ltd owns and controls fire trucks and fire-fighting foams at Palmerston North, Gisborne, and Hawkes Bay airports,” Dr Freeth said.

“At Palmerston North Airport, laboratory test results regarding foams contained in two fire trucks and various storage drums have come back positive for PFOS,” Dr Freeth says.

“At Gisborne and Hawkes Bay airports, EPA investigators found drums of fire-fighting foam either explicitly labelled as containing “PFAS (PFOA or PFOS)” or labelled with the names of products known to contain PFOS.”

“On this basis, the EPA has concluded that two fire trucks, one at Gisborne and one at Hawkes Bay, also contain PFOS foams. The foams from these fire trucks are being laboratory-tested to confirm this, as are the foams contained in the labelled storage drums,” Dr Freeth said.

“Given our conclusion that these foams are present in fire trucks at all three airports, clearly they would be used in response to a fire emergency at those sites,” Dr Freeth said.

“The compliance order we have issued requires Task Protection Services Ltd to stop use of fire-fighting foam containing PFOS when responding to emergencies by Friday 4th May, unless another date is mutually agreed. In the interim, it may continue using the foam for emergencies, in the interests of safety. The compliance order also requires Task Protection Services immediately to cease using PFOS foam for training or testing purposes.”

The company must submit a plan to the EPA by Tuesday 10th April, detailing steps that will be taken to ensure the foam is no longer used. The plan must also show how the foam will be safely stored and disposed of.

“Our aim is to ensure Task Protection Services follows the legal requirements, which are designed to protect people and the environment,” Dr Freeth said.

This action follows a similar EPA Compliance Order being served on Nelson Airport on 27 February.

The EPA announced its investigation into PFOS- and PFOA-containing fire-fighting foams in December 2017. The inquiry is on-going, and the EPA is visiting airports across the country, taking samples of fire-fighting foams, and having them tested by an independent, qualified laboratory.

“Foams manufactured using PFOS have not been legal for use in New Zealand since 2006, when they were excluded from a Fire-fighting Chemicals Group Standard issued by the EPA. PFOS is listed as a persistent organic pollutant under the Stockholm Convention, and the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act was amended in 2011 to reflect this,” Dr Freeth said.

“This means that no import, use or manufacture of PFOS compounds is permitted in New Zealand, other than for specific, identified uses, such as laboratory analysis.”

Note for Editors:
PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonic acid) is a member of a large family of chemicals known as PFAS. It has been used in fire-fighting foams since the 1960s, though manufacture ceased around 2002.
Importing and manufacturing fire-fighting foams containing PFOS was effectively prohibited in New Zealand in 2006, under the Fire-Fighting Chemicals Group Standard.
PFOS is harmful in the environment and may affect human health if there has been long-term exposure. Its use and management is restricted internationally under an agreement called the Stockholm Convention, as it is a persistent organic pollutant (POP).
Further information is available on the EPA website
And the Ministry for the Environment’s website


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