Read the full article by Justin Garcia (Star Herald)

“If a fire broke out at Western Nebraska Regional Airport tomorrow, the firefighters tasked with putting it out would be putting themselves at risk for two reasons. The first risk is fire. But the second reason is less obvious and lurks within the tools firefighters use to put out some of the hottest fire that can erupt at an airport.

On Wednesday, Airport Director Raul Aguallo told the airport board that the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy was testing the soil around the airport for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, a cancer-causing substance, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

PFAS is used in fire suppression foams used to put down electrical fires or fires burning from a gasoline fuel source, like in a plane crash.

Aguallo told the board he doesn’t expect NDEE to find serious contamination in the soil. He said NDEE found no serious amounts of PFAS in well water tests conducted earlier this year. On Friday, NDEE confirmed Aguallo’s statement to be true.

However, if they do find contaminants in the soil, Aguallo said it could be up to the airport to shovel the cost.

In the past, manufacturers used PFAS in paper products, textile coating and, most commonly known, in cookware primarily as means of giving a product non-stick and heat resistant qualities. In the 1980s, PFAS were adopted into fire suppression foams.

Contamination from fire fighting foam occurs when either the fire suppression foam leaks from its container or is allowed to seep into the ground after suppressing a fire…”