Airport files its action plan for PFAS

Six private homes listed as ‘imminent hazard’ from contamination.

Map showing PFAS presence levels for wells tested surrounding the airport. — Courtesy Tetra Tech

Updated Jan. 23

A consultant for Martha’s Vineyard Airport has filed the immediate response action plan with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection for contaminants found in drinking water at properties located south of the airport. The plan calls for installing point-of-entry, carbon-filter systems to remove the contaminants from as many as 26 wells, including six that are considered an imminent hazard to the people living at the addresses.

The systems will cost about $4,000 each, for a total of more than $100,000. Additional monitoring will also be necessary, Ron Myrick, the airport consultant from Tetra Tech, wrote in an email responding to questions.

Use of firefighting foam at the airport, which contains per- or polyfluoroalkyl substance (PFAS), is suspected in the elevated levels of PFAS found in 13 private wells. The state has set a guideline for 70 parts per trillion of PFAS.

There were 100 wells tested, including 96 at private homes in neighborhoods south of the airport in West Tisbury and Edgartown. Though no actual addresses are used in the report, Tetra Tech, the environmental consultant, has said the highest concentrations were in the vicinity of Edgartown–West Tisbury Road.

The report is nearly 2,000 pages, is posted on the state Energy & Environmental Affairs website, and is expected to be posted on the airport’s website. A public meeting on the action plan has been scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 30, at 5:30 pm at Martha’s Vineyard Airport.

“The reported concentrations of the five target PFAS compounds in private well water from six of the 100 private wells sampled were at concentrations that represent a potential [imminent hazard] to human health due to consumption of the water,” the report states.

The report details the timeline of the testing, which began last March with Myrick pitching to airport officials to test for PFAS on airport property ahead of MassDEP setting its guidelines. The offsite testing began in October and was expanded in December when three water samples tested positive for PFAS, requiring notification to MassDEP.

One point-of-entry system has already been installed, and has been effective in removing PFAS from the water. Installation of the other systems will begin in February, and is expected to be completed by this spring, according to the report. Quarterly testing of the systems will be done.

The systems will be installed at the five remaining addresses where an imminent hazard has been identified. Then seven other addresses where concentrations total 70 ppt will be done, followed by 13 addresses where concentrations of PFAS compounds exceed 20 ppt, but are below 70 ppt, according to the report.

In the interim, all of those addresses are being supplied bottled water.

On airport property, 500 cubic yards of soil is being removed from the edge of a runway that’s being repaired. And firefighting foam, which is still used and tested at the airport, is being contained in a holding tank after testing — a voluntary measure imposed by the airport.

In his email, Myrick wrote that the soil will be tested for PFAS before a final determination is made on how to dispose of it. More testing of private wells will be done in areas where elevated levels of PFAS has been detected, he wrote. Some residents either could not be contacted or were not available to accommodate testing because the homes are seasonal, he wrote.

The DEP has 21 days to either accept the plan or reject it, according to state regulations.

Updated to correct timing of point of entry systems being installed. – Ed.