Read the full article by Marina Schauffler (The Maine Monitor)

“A recent U.S. Navy report finds that per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) concentrated near the runway of the former Brunswick Naval Air Station ‘may be a primary source of PFAS in (area) groundwater and springs,’ potentially contaminating the aquifer that supplies two well fields of the Brunswick & Topsham Water District, which serves roughly 18,000 residents. 

The new findings reinforce concerns among community members that persistent chemicals from past military use are migrating off the former base into groundwater and ecosystems.  

In routine water sampling done last year at its Jordan Avenue well fields, the district found an average PFAS level in its lower well field of 40 parts per trillion (ppt), double the state’s interim drinking water standard of 20 ppt for the sum of six PFAS compounds. 

The Jordan Avenue well fields lie roughly a quarter-mile downslope from the northern edge of the former base, and the aquifer that feeds those wells sits partially beneath the end of its runway. 

Those two well fields provide a quarter of the district’s water supply. Water from the lower well field has not been used since testing revealed the PFAS, and that lost output has been problematic during the drought, said Craig Douglas, the district’s general manager. If the whole well field had to be taken off-line, the district would likely need to activate an emergency interconnection with Bath to meet peak demands.

The district installed 10 monitoring wells between its well fields and the runway, generating data that indicated the contamination source lay in that vicinity. The Navy also installed 17 new monitoring wells. On Sept. 9, it issued a testing report that showed the highest reading — at roughly 350 ppt for six combined PFAS — came from a deep monitoring well located near a storm drain line by the runway. 

‘The Navy’s recent testing confirms the presence of PFAS, but it’s not enough to characterize the entirety of the problem,’ said Suzanne Johnson, president of Brunswick Area Citizens for a Safe Environment (BACSE), a nonprofit citizens’ group formed in 1990 to support environmental cleanup of the base. ‘Where are the chemicals coming from and where are they running to? Intensive efforts need to be made now to safeguard the public.'” …