Exemption from the PFAS Firefighting Foam Regulation

The Protection of the Environment Operations (General) Regulation 2021 (the Regulation) enables the EPA to exempt people, or entities, from any PFAS requirement in the Regulation. Those persons impacted by the Regulation and that cannot comply with a requirement or requirements in Chapter 8, Part 5 of the Regulation by the stated timeframe, may apply to the EPA for an exemption.

This guidance should be read in conjunction with the application form, below.

Guidance for applying for an exemption

 

The applicant is most likely to be the person or class of persons responsible for managing the use and storage of PFAS firefighting foam. It may be an individual or another legal entity (for example, a corporation). References in this guide to a business are references to the legal entity that operates the business. If another person becomes responsible, that person should advise the EPA within five business days of the change. A new application for an exemption will not be required unless the new responsible person becomes aware of a change in circumstances, which could affect the conditions under which the exemption was issued.

Applications can be made for any combination of the following three types of exemption:

  • Exemption Type 1: Discharge of PFAS firefighting foam for training or demonstration purposes
  • Exemption Type 2: Discharge of prescribed long chain PFAS firefighting foam (which could apply from 26 September 2022)
  • Exemption Type 3: Discharge of PFAS firefighting foam from a portable fire extinguisher (which could apply from 26 September 2022).
Applicants should nominate the individual sites at which the exemption types will apply.

This section declares the site(s) at which persons or classes of persons are seeking time-limited exemptions from restrictions on the continuing use of PFAS firefighting foam. The EPA can exempt individuals or businesses (and their employees) from the Regulation in relation to:

  • one or more of the sites under their management
  • one or more of the exemption categories.

Individuals and businesses applying for an exemption(s) must disclose and provide relevant details, such as a map, for each site (where activities otherwise restricted by the Regulation are proposed to continue).

This section seeks information on firefighting foam usage and practices in relation to current and future uses of nominated sites. Assessments will consider business-wide planning and systems across all sites where PFAS firefighting foams are used. Applicants should also disclose any site-specific practices and controls that depart from standard business-wide considerations.

1. Foam composition analysis

Responses should provide detail on chemical compositions, referencing a suitable firefighting foam composition analysis report (from a laboratory that is accredited for the relevant test and matrix) confirming the storage of PFAS firefighting foams.

These reports need to be produced for each site that is the subject of the application form, or the applicant needs to identify that the same report applies.

EPA assessment criteria

In undertaking its assessment, the EPA may consider whether the firefighting foams analysed satisfy any part of the definition of PFAS firefighting foam, and any other factors relevant to the application.

2. Business-wide uses of firefighting foams

Responses should briefly describe the firefighting systems and processes adopted at a business-wide level involving PFAS firefighting foams. Supporting documentation outlining fire suppression systems and operational procedures applying across all nominated sites in Section B are requested.

EPA assessment criteria

In undertaking its assessment, the EPA may consider:

  • if and how PFAS firefighting foams are necessary to support safe business operations and production
  • any changes proposed that will increase capacity or production levels, or expand the range of products or services offered
  • combustible substances used as part of current and future production processes or operations
  • types of fire suppression systems in use, including PFAS firefighting foam used and any relevant technical information
  • frequency and procedures for testing of fire suppression systems for:
    • prescribed long chain PFAS firefighting foam
    • other PFAS firefighting foam
  • storage arrangements for PFAS firefighting foam
  • purpose and reasons for the use of PFAS firefighting foams stored on nominated sites
  • methods of PFAS firefighting foam delivery (for example, portable extinguishers, response vehicles, pumped from storages, or other methods)
  • frequency of replacement and replenishment of PFAS firefighting foam
  • financial burden to the entity to change practices by 26 September 2022
  • staff training and qualification in use/handling of PFAS firefighting foams
  • any other factors that are relevant to the application.

3. Site-specific considerations

This section seeks further information on any specific or unique fire suppression systems involving PFAS firefighting foams in place on the relevant sites managed by the proposed exempt person or class of persons. For each of the sites nominated in Section B, the applicant should provide documentation detailing the systems installed on-site to:

  • contain PFAS firefighting foam during use
  • safely store, treat and dispose of discharged PFAS firefighting foam and wastewater.

Applicants should provide reference numbers for any Environment Protection Licence(s), Environmental Management Plan(s) or Pollution Incident Response Management Plan(s) that apply on the sites to which exemptions are proposed.

Site plans and images of fire suppression systems, containment, storage locations and facilities, treatment and disposal infrastructure for nominated sites should also accompany the exemption applications.

The applicant should clearly separate the information based on which site it concerns.

EPA assessment criteria

In undertaking its assessment, the EPA may consider:

  • methods and processes for PFAS firefighting foam and/or wastewater capture and containment (for example, bunding)
  • methods and processes for disposal of PFAS firefighting foam waste and/or wastewater (for example, use of wastewater storage tanks, on-site wastewater treatment, or other approaches)
  • any other factors that are relevant to the application.

4. Transition plan to phase out PFAS firefighting foam use

This section seeks information on the reasons and key supporting evidence to justify why exemptions from the Regulation are required. Responses should reference a suitable Transition Plan provided as part of the application. A Transition Plan for each site is expected unless the same Plan applies to all sites.

The EPA expects individuals and businesses to take the steps necessary to comply with the Regulation as a first course of action. The intent of delaying commencement of parts of the Regulation until 26 September 2022 is to allow the time needed for impacted individuals and businesses to put in place alternative arrangements to the use of PFAS firefighting foams.

Applicants should briefly outline Plans for transitioning to alternative firefighting arrangements, such as:

  • the reasons to support the ongoing use of PFAS firefighting foam
  • type(s) of PFAS firefighting foam proposed for continuing use
  • expected timeframes for continuing use
  • stages and timeframes for moving to alternatives (including system changeover and decontamination activities).

EPA assessment criteria

In undertaking its assessment, the EPA may consider:

  • evidence to support the need of the applicant to continue using PFAS firefighting foams for training and demonstration purposes (Exemption Type 1)
  • the applicant’s examination of substitutes to the use of PFAS firefighting foams, and evidence to support why the substitutes examined are not suitable (Exemption Types 2 and 3)
  • proposed stages of transition, including time required to changeover or acquire the new or upgraded infrastructure
  • any other factors influencing the time required to complete the transition away from use of prescribed long chain PFAS firefighting foam and PFAS firefighting foam extinguishers
  • any other factors that are relevant to the application.

Exemptions may be time-bound to ensure regular review and movement towards compliance. Applicants should state the number of months requested for the exemption, and a proposed date for the exemption to expire. If the applicant has applied for an exemption for more than one site, the requested exemption timeframe should be included for each site.

5. Further supporting information

This section enables applicants to provide the EPA with any further information that is relevant to their application and that will assist the assessment process.

The EPA may also request further information for the purposes of determining whether to grant an exemption.

The EPA will aim to complete the following application assessment tasks within the stated timeframes.

Application task Timeframe

1. Pre-screening – to ensure all information has been provided

5 business days from when the Application Form is emailed to the EPA.

2. Assessment

30 days for assessment and determination, unless the EPA classifies the application as complex and notifies the applicant that more time is required.

This timeframe begins once step 1 has been completed and the EPA has determined that the Application Form is complete. If the EPA requires more information to be provided during the Assessment stage or if a response has been provided to the Applicant for consideration, the timeframe for response stops and begins again when the information or application returns to the EPA.

3. Determination

Application form: Exemption from the PFAS Firefighting Foam Regulation

Use this form to apply for an exemption from the provisions of Chapter 8, Part 5 of the Protection of the Environment Operations (General) Regulation 2021 that restrict the use of PFAS firefighting foam.

Applicants should read the guidance sections, above, and refer to the requirements when completing the application.

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Section A: Entity applying for exemption

Individual







Corporation or other legal entity







Section B: Sites subject to exemption application
  • Exemption Type 1: Discharge of PFAS firefighting foam for training or demonstration purposes
  • Exemption Type 2: Discharge of prescribed long chain PFAS firefighting foam (which could apply from 26 September 2022)
  • Exemption Type 3: Discharge of PFAS firefighting foam from a portable fire extinguisher (which could apply from 26 September 2022)
Applicable site





Section C: Documents supporting exemption application
1. Foam composition analysis

A PFAS firefighting foam composition analysis report should accompany all exemption applications to verify the types of PFAS firefighting foams used on individual sites. If an exemption has been applied for more than one site, please include information for all.

Does the foam compilation analysis confirm:


2. Business-wide uses of firefighting foams

Documentation setting out business-wide fire suppression strategies and processes should accompany all exemption applications.



3. Site-specific considerations

Applicants should provide any Environmental Management Plans, Environment Protection Licences and Pollution Incident Response Management plans that apply to nominated sites. Site plans and images of fire suppression systems, containment, storage locations and facilities, treatment, and disposal infrastructure for nominated sites should also accompany all exemption applications.





4. Transition plan to phase out PFAS firefighting foam use

A transition plan outlining the proposed phase-out of the use of PFAS firefighting foam should accompany all exemption applications. If an exemption is granted it may be time limited.





5. Further supporting information


Signature of applicants

This application may only be signed by a person(s) with the legal authority to sign it. The various ways in which the application may be signed, and the people who may sign the application are set out in the categories below. Please select the button next to the category that describes how this application is being signed.

I/We (the person(s) to whom this exemption will apply to):

  • Apply for an exemption under clause 124 of the Protection of the Environment (Operations) General Regulation 2021
  • Declare that the information in this application (including any attachment) is not false or misleading in any material particular




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