Martha’s Vineyard Airport director Geoff Freeman shared with the Martha’s Vineyard Airport Commission during a Thursday afternoon meeting that the per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) mitigation pilot project has begun, and the PlumeStop installation process was done on Friday, Dec. 9.
Tetra Tech vice president Ron Myrick, whose firm handled the testing and mitigation of PFAS around the Martha’s Vineyard Airport area, and completed the first stage of PFAS investigations in 2019, notified the commission during an August meeting about plans to use a remediation pilot program of “targeted PlumeStop application to assess mitigating further migration of PFAS” off the airport. PlumeStop is an activated carbon substance made by the company Regenesis. Research and development for the PlumeStop began in 2007, and it was launched for commercial application in 2015.
PFAS describes a family of long-lasting chemicals that break down very slowly, which is why they are nicknamed “forever chemicals.” Extended periods of exposure to PFAS, or high concentrations of the chemicals, are toxic, and can affect developing fetuses, thyroid, liver, kidneys, hormone levels, and the immune system. The chemicals have also been known to create a cancer risk. The Island has had its issues with the chemicals before, including PFAS contaminants found in residential wells south of the airport in 2018 suspected to have come from the firefighting foam used by Martha’s Vineyard Airport, although testing for the foam has not occurred in the area in around four years.
Myrick had proposed injecting the material in an area south of the wastewater treatment plant, which is near locations where aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) testing or usage occurred in the past.
The commission unanimously voted to move forward with the PlumeStop pilot project with Tetra Tech in October. PlumeStop will act as a purifier for PFAS-contaminated groundwater that it comes into contact with.
“Obviously it’ll be a monitored situation, and they’re working down there right now,” Freeman said.
When commission vice chair Don Ogilvie asked whether there were plans “to announce it once it’s in,” Freeman said “[we] approved it in the commission meeting.” The neighbors were notified about the process, but “we won’t see results for a period of time as it gets into the system.”
“A lot of it won’t be a direct result of some kind, as testing circles go around here,” Freeman said.