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Yakutat Airport Firefighting Foam Contamination

Page updated 8/29/19   Go to PFAS Home Page

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Background

Yakutat Airport

Above: Yakutat Water Sampling Results As Of July 2019
(click image for larger view)

The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (DOT&PF) was alerted to concentrations of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) exceeding the state action level for drinking water in one well located at the Yakutat Airport. Twelve wells were sampled on or near airport property. The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) began initial sampling of private water wells near airport property in February.

Of the 12 samples, there was one location in Yakutat that exceeded the DEC’s 2018 action level, but not the current action level, which is based on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Lifetime Health Advisory (LHA) level. Alternate drinking water has been provided to that location. Sampling in Yakutat occurred as the department was transitioning from the 2018 action levels to the current action level. Four wells tested well below the DEC 2018 action level and seven wells had no detections.

DOT&PF has contracted Shannon & Wilson, Inc. to finish the preliminary investigation, which includes an in-depth well search and sampling event.

PFAS are commonly used in products for fire suppression, resistance to wear, and repelling oil, stains, grease, and water. PFAS can be found in carpets, upholstery, apparel, paper, nonstick cookware, food packaging, personal care products, and in firefighting aqueous film forming foams (AFFF). The use of AFFF during firefighting equipment testing at the Yakutat Airport is the presumed source of PFAS contamination in the affected wells. PFAS are considered emerging contaminants and the health effects are not yet well characterized.

Shannon & Wilson conducted a well search and sampling event at the Yakutat airport and its surrounding area in June 2019. A total of 21 wells were sampled. None of those wells tested above the EPA’s LHA of 70 ppt. To date, one well in Yakutat has exceeded actionable levels and that location has been provided alternate drinking water. Based on the results from this thorough well search, the sampling area does not need to expand further.

To date, DOT&PF’s priority in Yakutat has been to identify and provide safe drinking water to those who need it. Together with Shannon & Wilson, DEC and engineering consultants, DOT&PF has begun to assess options for a long-term solution to provide clean drinking water.

In order to track PFAS movement in groundwater, DEC requires continued quarterly monitoring of wells with sample results above 35 ppt (in yellow on map) and annual monitoring of wells with sample results above 17.5 ppt (in light green on map).

Residents who have questions regarding sample results please email airportwater@alaska.gov.

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Contacts

For more information, please contact us.

For questions about testing & study:

Shannon & Wilson, Inc.
Ashley Jaramillo, Project Manager,
907-458-3118,
amj@shanwil.com

For regulatory questions:

Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, 
Contaminated Site Program
Environmental Program Manager
907-269-3057
bill.oconnell@alaska.gov 

Division of Spill Prevention and Response website: 
dec.alaska.gov/spar/csp/sites.aspx

For questions about PFAS health effects:

Alaska Department of Health & Social Services
Sarah Yoder, Public Health Scientist
907-269-8054
sarah.yoder@alaska.gov

Division of Public Health Website:
dhss.alaska.gov/dph/epi/eph/Pages/default.aspx

For claim filing instructions:

Alaska Department of Administration
Division of Risk Management
Sheri Gray, Risk Manager
PO Box 110218
Juneau, AK 99811-0218
907-465-5724
907-465-3690
sheri.gray@alaska.gov

For questions about Yakutat Airport Firefighting Foam and all other inquiries:

Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities
Statewide Aviation
Sammy Cummings, PFAS Contract Manager
907-888-5671
airportwater@alaska.gov