Millions more to be spent on massive PFAS bill
SUNSHINE Coast Council has confirmed the cost of managing PFAS at the airport runway construction site will reach $43 million.
In response to questions put by the Sunshine Coast Daily, the council has revealed $25 million set aside in August last year would be fully expended.
The amount comes on top of earlier expenditure of $18 million.
The Daily put a series of specific questions to all Sunshine Coast councillors and the Mayor on Tuesday, with a 1pm deadline seeking full detail of the cost of PFAS treatment and management at the runway construction site.
The questions have been printed in full below, followed by a statement provided at 5.46pm quoting Deputy Mayor and Sunshine Coast Coast Airport Expansion Project chairman Tim Dwyer.
The response states that as well as the $25 million, another $18 million was allocated inside the project budget for PFAS-related purposes.
However the response fails to explain why the presence of PFAS and a management plan were not addressed in the Environmental Impact Statement that secured approval of the runway project.
QUESTIONS TO COUNCILLORS
1. Cr Dwyer has confirmed that $12.75 million of a $25 million provision outlined at a Special Meeting on August 22, 2019, has been expended. To what purposes and in what amounts has that money been used in relation to PFAS management?
2. How much of the balance of the $25 million is expected to be used and to what purposes?
3. The back pages of the 2018-19 Sunshine Coast Council Annual Report notes that costs in the order of $18 million had been incurred in "consultant reporting, site investigation, testing and mitigation works to address the issues to the satisfaction of DES. These costs were required to be incurred in order to continue construction of the runway". And "In addition, as further mitigation is expected to be required to allow the runway construction to continue, a provision of $20 million has been recognised at 30 June 2019 to allow for this".
On the available information it would appear that, to date, expenditure includes $18 million + $12.75 million + $ (Whatever balance may be required from the aforementioned $25 million). What is the total expected PFAS mitigation cost for the project?
4. Given the widely-held knowledge of the dangers of PFAS and the likelihood of its presence in airport environs, why wasn't the need for PFAS management identified through the course of the EIS process?
STATEMENT IN RESPONSE FROM CR TIM DWYER
$12.75 million has been expended from the $25 million contingency provision in the 2019/20 financial year. This expenditure has been for PFAS management purposes, including relevant consultancies and assessments, purchase and installation of water tanks and the water treatment facility, water treatment operations and other activities associated with the management of PFAS in ponded water that was previously contained on the site.
The remaining contingency will be used as needed in the management of PFAS. This information was made publicly available in budget reports to council.
The costs associated with the management of PFAS in the ponded water that was previously on the Sunshine Coast Airport Expansion Project site are met from within the airport expansion project budget, progress on which is regularly reported to council.
The airport expansion project, including the cost to manage the ponded water that was on the site, is funded from borrowings which will be retired when council receives the final project payment from Palisade Investment Partners in 2022, so there is no enduring cost to the ratepayer from this project.
The (Environmental Impact Statement) was developed in compliance with the terms of reference issued by the Co-ordinator General and received all requisite approvals and associated conditions as deemed necessary by the Co-ordinator General.
Sunshine Coast Council continues to meet all of its environmental obligations as progress continues on the Sunshine Coast Airport Expansion Project. Council continues to work closely with the Queensland Government Department of Environment and Science (DES).