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State PFAS Plan Calls For More Water Testing After Two Accidents At Bradley

This area was set up to contain PFAS-filled foam in Windsor after the crash of a B-17 at Bradley International Airport last month.
Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection
This area was set up to contain PFAS-filled foam in Windsor after the crash of a B-17 at Bradley International Airport last month.

Gov. Ned Lamont’s office announced Monday that the state has completed its final action plan to address per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, a class of nearly 5,000 chemicals that has been linked to health problems in animals and humans.

Betsey Wingfield, a deputy commissioner for environmental quality at the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, said one component of the plan involves gathering more baseline data about PFAS contamination in the state.

“How ubiquitous is PFAS in fish in Connecticut? How ubiquitous is it in our streams and rivers? And at what concentration? And that will really help guide our response in how we look at this issue,” Wingfield said.

The plan also calls for more testing of public drinking water -- and a possible takeback program for PFAS-containing firefighting foam for state agencies and municipal fire departments.

“In addition, we want people to be aware of PFAS as a class of chemicals,” Wingfield said. “We want to be able to help people try to minimize their exposure [and] identify those areas where human health is potentially impacted, if there is contaminated drinking water in the state.”

Monday’s report follows two high-profile incidents at Bradley International Airport this year.

In June, an accident at a private aircraft hangar sent thousands of gallons of PFAS-filled firefighting foam into the Farmington River.

Then last month, a World War II-era B-17 plane crashed at Bradley, killing seven people. PFAS-filled foam that was used to put out the blaze subsequently got into nearby water and soil.

Since the June spill, the state has banned eating fish from the Farmington River in Windsor.

Copyright 2019 Connecticut Public Radio

Patrick Skahill is a reporter at WNPR. He covers science and the environment. Prior to becoming a reporter, he was the founding producer of WNPR's The Colin McEnroe Show, which began in 2009. Patrick's reporting has appeared on NPR's Morning Edition, Here & Now, and All Things Considered. He has also reported for the Marketplace Morning Report. He can be reached by phone at 860-275-7297 or by email: pskahill@ctpublic.org.
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