Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances

The Social Discovery of a Class of Emerging Contaminants

Joint Base, Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Suspected contamination source: Firefighting foam used at Joint Air Force Base Cape Cod (Cape Cod Times, 2016)

Fuel tanker crashes occurred in 1997 and 2000. One tanker spilled hundreds of gallons of jet fuel, the other leaked a similar amount of gasoline. In each incident, it took several months for the areas to be thoroughly cleaned up. In both incidents, firefighters from Joint Base Cape Cod sprayed firefighting foam on the spilled fuel to prevent it from catching fire. Chemicals in the foam include perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA).

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The topographic lines of the aquifer are referred to as water table contours, which are used by hydrogeologists to plot the exact flow of groundwater.

The AFFF sprayed at these accidents, in addition to firefighting training likely contributed to the contamination of nearby groundwater.

 

The geology of Cape Cod makes its groundwater sources extremely susceptible to contamination. In parts of Massachusetts with clay or rocky soil, ground water can take a decade or more to travel a foot underground, depending on the geology. In some parts of Cape Cod, ground water travels a foot a day, and in many places the water table sits less than 10 feet below the surface.

Additional Resources:

Recreational Use of Waterbodies On or Near Joint Base Cape Cod (JBCC)

Media Coverage:

Full citations are available on the second page of the full contamination site tracker. We ask for your additions, changes, questions and comments to be sent to pfasproject@gmail.com.

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