Read the full article by Tim Ellis (Alaska Public Media)

“The Army Corps of Engineers has awarded a contract to clean up PFAS-contaminated soil at Eielson Air Force Base. The chemical used in firefighting foams has been linked to serious health problems. And a longtime Alaska contamination expert is skeptical of the PFAS-cleanup technique that’ll be used at Eielson.

The Corps of Engineers awarded the $27.6 million contract to Anchorage-based Brice Engineering on Nov. 10. It calls for the contractor to clean up about 130,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil excavated during construction of eight facilities to accommodate the buildup of F-35 fighter jets at Eielson. That’s enough soil to cover an acre of land about nine feet deep.

The contractor will employ a process called ‘soil washing’ that uses water to extract enough of the PFAS to meet the state’s cleanup standard. But Pam Miller, the executive director of Alaska Community Action on Toxics, says the project presents several concerns.

‘It’s an experimental technology. I don’t think it’s proven,’ she said in a Nov. 21 interview.

Miller says soil-washing lacks enough real-world testing to ensure it’ll work as well as its advocates claim. And she says there’s a lack of transparency on whether the process will clean the soil enough to be safe for uses such as backfill, as required by the contract.

‘So I have some big questions about that, and some skepticism,’ she said. ‘And I think there are some better and more innovative technologies out there that actually destroy PFAS.’

An Eielson spokesperson referred questions about the PFAS cleanup to the Army Corps of Engineers. Guy Warren, a Corps of Engineers project manager, said in an email last week that the water that washes away the PFAS will be run through filters to remove two PFAS-related compounds, PFOS and PFOA.

Warren wrote that ‘a high concentration/low volume solution’ of the processed water would then be incinerated.

But Miller says some of the more than 12,000 chemical compounds — collectively referred to as PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances — will get through the filter. And she says the contaminated filters would then create another disposal problem.” …