Air National Guard site investigation underway for water contaminants

The site investigation is part of a multi-step process being done by the Guard.

WESTFIELD, Mass. (The Westfield News) — A site investigation is underway this week at Barnes Air National Guard to further evaluate the issue of contaminants in city water and a potential link to the base.

The site investigation is part of a multi-step process being done by the Guard, as outlined from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), also known as Superfund, according to John Richardson, Base Environmental Coordinator for the site. The investigation is related to the contamination of Westfield groundwater with perfluorinated compounds Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS).

The investigation began on June 26, Richardson said, and is expected to continue until June 30. Results are expected Nov. 30.

According to Richardson, this is the second step in a five-step process that is outlined by CERCLA and the EPA. The next step after this one would be remedial/investigation feasibility, which according to the EPA’s Superfund website

“…involves an evaluation of the nature and extent of contamination at a site and assessing potential threats to human health and the environment. This stage of the process also includes evaluation of the potential performance and cost of the treatment options identified for a site.”

Regarding the investigation itself, Richardson said that they are taking 12 soil samples from boring sites for analysis.

“The Site Investigation Work Plan calls for collecting soil and ground water samples from [five] sites throughout the base,” Richardson said via email.

In addition, four temporary monitoring wells were installed along with one permanent well that was already on site, to monitor groundwater.

Also, Richardson noted that all older aqueous firefighting foam (AFFF), which is suspected as a possible source of contamination, had been removed from the base and replaced.

“…all older AFFF removed from fire trucks and old stock was also removed and replaced with less toxic AFFF,” he wrote in an email. “The Air Force began replacing its legacy AFFF stock with Phos-Chek 3 percent, six carbon chain AFFF in August 2016. Phos-Chek is PFOS free and contains only trace amounts of PFOA.”

Copyright 2017 The Westfield News