PFAS from airports: How Perpetuum deposited 50.000 tonnes of AFFF PFAS soil

In their work to restore the area of a former airport, Svea were faced with a substantial amount of PFAS contaminated soil from AFFF foams used in fire drills. Perpetuum assisted with depositing the masses, and helped bring the area back to its natural state.

When the coal mines in Spitsbergen were decided closed in 2020, the dismantling of 100 years of industrial adventures began. The Svalbard Environmental Protection Act demands that all industrial areas, once closed, must be restored to their natural state.

For Store Norske Spitsbergen Kulkompani (SNSK), the owner of the coal mine and industrial areas, that included restoring the airport connected to the mine.

The issue: Disposal of AFFF foam contaminated soil

The Svea airport, primarily used for transporting the workers from Longyearbyen to the mining site, had also been used as a location for fire drills using AFFF foams. The AFFF foams used contained PFAS substances that seeped into the soil.

The disposal of soil contaminated by the AFFF foam was necessary to fully restore the area back to its natural, uncontaminated state. Director of Perpetuum, Are Lorentsen, explains why depositing the soil in a landfill proved to be the best solution.

“With the amount of contaminated soil at a site such as this, depositing the masses at a landfill is the only viable solution to return the area to its natural state. Other solutions would not remove all PFAS, and would also require long term treatment and monitoring on-site at Svea”, Lorentsen says.

Depositing soil in a landfill may sound like a case of “leaving it somewhere safe, and forgetting about it”, but there is more to it than just storing the soil in a landfill. The Perpetuum-director explains how the deposit also remediates the PFAS.

“The leachate water from the PFAS deposit is treated very effectively, ensuring that close to nothing of the deposited PFAS will ever reach the environment again. When the landfill cell is full, it will be sealed off permanently with a long term watertight top coat.”

Smooth logistics

The project as a whole lasted from 2020 to 2022, but the expedition of the PFAS contaminated soil was finished during a period of two months. A total amount of 50.000 tonnes of soil was sent to the PFAS deposit.

The project was one of Perpetuum’s largest single deposits of PFAS masses at the time, but the amount of masses did not prove to be a problem for the logistics of the project. The soil was sent from Spitsbergen to Perpetuum’s landfill in Stormoen, outside Tromso, by ship. Perpetuum’s landfill lies in close proximity to an industrial sized port located at Bergneset, scaled for ships carrying up to 13.000 tonnes of masses.

“As the shipments of soil came in, we were on-site to continuously and effectively transport the masses and deposit them at the landfill. This project proved to ourselves that we are able to receive substantial amounts of masses by ship, efficiently”, Lorentsen explains.

–In close alignment with our vision

Perpetuum’s stated vision is to work for a world without contamination. With PFAS being one of the major contamination issues currently at a global scale, Lorentsen explains how the company has invested a lot of time and money in creating sustainable solutions for PFAS contaminated soil. Aware of the threat that PFAS contamination poses on a global scale, and of the contamination from sources like AFFF foams at airports, Perpetuum’s goal has been to deliver a solution fitting the scale of a project like this. 

“The issue in the case of disposal of AFFF foams is not only the contamination, but the amount of soil contaminated. Restoring these areas to their natural state is a big task, and we are proud to have been a part of the solution in this case. That is the goal of Perpetuum, to push ourselves to create better solutions and standards for the environment”, the director states.

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