Read the full article by Gregory Hladky (Hartford Courant)
“Connecticut officials are planning to test major rivers and lakes across the state this summer for the presence of hazardous levels of the potentially toxic compound known as PFAS, which was involved in a recent Farmington River spill.
‘There will be at least a dozen [test locations] to start and we anticipate many more,’ Ray Frigon, head of the state’s environmental remediation unit, said Thursday. ‘We certainly expect the tests to be performed during the summer months.’
Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal is planning to conduct a news conference on the banks of the Farmington River in Windsor Friday morning to talk about legislation to provide federal funding for PFAS-related cleanups. He said these hazardous compounds have ‘become a big national problem.’
An estimated 50,000 gallons of firefighting foam containing PFAS mixed with water was spilled at a Bradley International Airport hangar on June 8. An unknown amount of the mixture made its way through sewers to an MDC plant and ended up in the Farmington River in Windsor. Officials estimate that about 19,000 gallons of the chemical foam-and-water mixture has been collected thus far from the hangar.
Public health officials have warned the public to avoid touching any remaining pockets of foam along the river, not to eat fish caught in the river, and recommend against swimming or boating on the river.
Studies have linked PFAS, a class of thousands of chemicals involving perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, to potentially dangerous health problems that include liver damage, thyroid disease, cancer, reproductive problems, high cholesterol, obesity and hormone suppression…
PFAS chemicals have been used in firefighting foams and a multitude of other products for decades. The compounds have been used in everything from non-stick pans to pizza boxes. PFAS contamination of drinking water has led to controversies across the U.S. and lawsuits and legal action in states that include Vermont, New Hampshire, New York and Pennsylvania.
In Connecticut, recent tests have discovered high levels of PFAS in a private well in Greenwich near Westchester County Airport and in a well on property in Willimantic near the Eastern Regional Fire Training School.
State health officials issued a “do not drink” order for the Greenwich well, and bottled water is now being provide for the resident of the Willimantic property where the PFAS contamination was discovered.
Firefighting foams containing the potentially hazardous compounds have been used in training and to combat fuel and chemical fires at virtually every fire department and airport across the state for decades.
State Fire Administrator Jeff Morrissette said his office is preparing to send out a survey to all Connecticut fire departments to find out how much PFAS foam they have, when it was manufactured, and where it has been used for training or to fight fires…
Frigon said state officials are in discussions with various universities in New England seeking assistance in Connecticut’s planned water testing program.
State health officials have already tested dozens of Connecticut’s major drinking water supply systems and have discovered no cases where PFAS levels exceeded limits recommended by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
A report by the environmental company hired to clean up the PFAS spill in the Farmington indicates that none of the firefighting foam was observed at the outfall pipe from the Windsor sewage treatment plant after June 13.
Initial tests showed high levels of PFAS in the river at the outfall shortly after the spill, but those levels have declined significantly, Frigon said.
Frigon said additional testing along the Farmington River is being planned, including sampling of downstream water and fish…”