FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTUU) – High levels of firefighting chemicals have been found in the groundwater near the Fairbanks International Airport, and the state will be testing nearby water wells starting next week.
The Alaska Department of Transportation says concentrations of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) higher than the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency advises were found in the groundwater at the Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting training area.
The PFAS chemicals are used in firefighting aqueous film forming foams, which have been used at the airport during training exercises and emergencies for many years.
Other common uses are in products for fire suppression, resistance to wear, and repelling oil, stains, grease and water. They’re found in carpets, upholstery, apparel, paper, packaging products, non-stick cookware, food packaging, and in personal care products.
“The safety of Fairbanks residents is paramount. As soon as PFAS were discovered on airport property, FAI initiated the process of testing neighboring properties. We will share test results with residents as they become available,” Airport Manage Jeff Roach said in a statement.
The airport is working with an environmental consulting firm and the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation to identify and sample private water wells west of the airport starting Monday, Nov. 13, 2017.
Those areas include properties between the Chena River and the Airport off of Dale Road, properties off Crown Road and S. Crown Rd. on the west side of the Chena River, and a small area off of Tall Spruce Road near the confluence of the Chena and Tanana Rivers.