In 2014, PFAS contamination forced the closure of one of three underground water wells that supplied drinking water to an international airport and business park in the US city of Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
Prior to becoming a booming economic hub, it was the site of a former US Air Force (USAF) Base, where aqueous film-forming foam, or AFFF, was used in firefighting training and to extinguish a fuel fire. This same site is also where a first-of-its-kind sustainable treatment for successfully tackling PFAS was deployed.
For 35-years, until it closed in 1991, Pease Air Force Base was the 4,255-acre home of B-52 Bombers and the US Strategic Air Command’s 509th Bomb Wing, during the Cold War. Because of long time use of AFFF at the site, and other former bases, the USAF contracted us to inventory areas where the foam was used. When concurrent sampling of a public water well underneath the airfield detected elevated levels of unregulated PFAS, we were asked to step in to further understand the specifics.
The challenges sparked by that discovery at the business park grew exponentially, due to the sheer number of community stakeholders involved – including 10,000 workers, children’s daycare facilities, a community college, and businesses. Government regulators were also pushing for swift and aggressive action.
From the very beginning of the project, we partnered locally with, and advised, the USAF. Our number one goal was to get our client into compliance with both regulatory and community expectations. To accomplish that, we brought in our subject matter experts – including engineers, geologists, construction managers, and operators – to evaluate and implement the technologies, treatments and PFAS sciences that would ensure the best solution.