Read the full article by Brian Bushard & John Lavenburg (Cape Cod Times)
“NANTUCKET — The flame-retardant firefighting foam Noah Karberg has seen sprayed in test exercises at Nantucket Memorial Airport has grown into one of the airport’s biggest concerns. The foam contains potentially cancer-causing contaminants called polyfluoroalkyl substances, also known as PFAS.
They’re pervasive chemicals that seep into and saturate groundwater indefinitely, earning them the nickname, “the forever drug.”
‘We’ve been using firefighting foam, which has been represented as safe by the manufacturer and required by the federal government, and now we learn that there’s a potential for us to have contributed to a public-health issue and that’s mortifying for us,’ Karberg, assistant airport manager, said last week.
Earlier this year, Weston Solutions — an environmental company out of Pennsylvania contracted by the airport — began testing airport wells for the chemicals.
It has tested four of the five wells on the property to date. Three of the four wells came back positive for PFAS, with two of those at a level above what the state Department of Environmental Protection has determined to be safe (20 parts per trillion). The wells do not supply the airport’s drinking water. It is on the town water supply, Karberg said.
In May, Weston Solutions also started testing residential wells south of the airport for PFAS. It has tested 12 so far, eight of which have tested positive, six above the DEP threshold.
‘Myself, my brother and my neighbor all have prostate cancer and four of my neighbors’ dogs have died of cancer,’ said Peter MacKay, who lives on Monohansett Road, just west of the airport, and uses well water.
None of the houses on that street have been tested.
‘We didn’t think anything about it before, but with this information coming, you can’t help but raise the question,’ McKay said.
Jay and June Trubee, who live on Skyline Drive, are also asking why the airport is not testing wells on their street. Earlier this month, they paid $325 to have their well tested, and $500 for a filtration system. They started drinking bottled water to be safe.
‘We asked Weston Solutions to test our water and they said we’re not on the schedule,’ June said. ‘We asked three times if we can get an estimate of the time they would test and they said ‘as soon as possible.’ It was vague. There’s no urgency.”
Town health director Roberto Santamaria said any testing would be the responsibility of the airport. Karberg said the plan is to lay out a timeframe for additional testing as soon as this week.
‘There was never an intent to not sample west of the airport. The intent was to gather data, look at where that data led, and then follow the direction of (Weston Solutions) and the DEP,’ Karberg said.
‘Now that this data is coming in, the stakeholder group is focusing on exactly that effort, which is moving the investigation to cross-gradient areas.’
Those areas include the neighborhoods west of the airport on Monohansett Road and Skyline Drive. Residences south of the airport were first, Karberg said, because Weston Solutions and the DEP determined those to be critical areas.
‘The most critical areas were those downgradient to the airport. Groundwater generally flows south to southeast from the airport,’ he said.
Karberg also made it clear that at some point the airport will be handicapped in the scope of its testing. FAA revenue use restrictions, he said, mandate revenue must be used for airport projects.
‘If the airport receives federally backed revenue, then airports have to use it for federally backed projects,’ he said…”