Read the full article by Sarah Robertson (The Shoestring)

“A decade after groundwater contaminated with PFAS was first detected in the public water supply near the Westfield-Barnes Regional Airport, the Air National Guard has announced it will begin a ‘remedial investigation’ of the problem. Soil and water samples taken in the vicinity of the airport will help to determine the extent of the contamination, and the scope of the US Department of Defense (DoD)’s responsibility to remediate it.

‘There’s a possibility there are other sources,’ Bill Myer, an environmental restoration program manager for the Air National Guard, told The Shoestring. ‘Everyone thinks it’s all the Air National Guard for PFAS, but there’s other sources of PFAS that are out there.’

At a January 12 virtual meeting of local, state and federal officials working on the PFAS problem in Westfield, Myer announced that the Westfield base had been approved for a yet-to-be-disclosed amount of federal money to conduct the remedial investigation.

For decades before the health risks of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) were understood, the Air Force used firefighting foam containing the highly toxic chemicals to practice extinguishing engine fires. Those chemicals leached into the groundwater supply in Westfield, as well as around hundreds of other US military bases around the world.

The city of Westfield first became aware of PFAS in its public water supply in 2013. By 2016 the Air National Guard had completed an initial ‘preliminary assessment’ of the contamination, which involved testing nearby wells, interviewing locals, and limited sampling of groundwater and soil.

It is still unknown how many private well owners may have been affected. Westfield city leaders approved a $13 million bond in 2018 to build filtration systems to address the contamination, and to date the DoD has reimbursed the city about $1.3 million of that amount. 

In 2019, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducted exposure assessments in communities either known to have PFAS in their drinking water, located near military bases, or both.”…