Army to probe depot water Toxic chemicals related to firefighting foam may be worse than originally thought
By DAVID L. SHAW
ROMULUS — The Army plans to investigate whether toxic chemicals related to the use of firefighting foam at the former Seneca Army Depot may be in groundwater “plumes” in central Seneca County.
Testing of groundwater in three areas determined that levels of perfluorooctanoic acid and perfluorooctane sulfonate — suspected carcinogenic chemicals associated with firefighting foam — are 1,327 times the federal health advisory limit.
New testing will be done in May 2019. The results would be used as the basis for determining whether a remediation program is needed or not, according to Randy Battaglia, environmental coordinator at the former depot.
“The sampling was done at the former air¬field refueling site, at a fire training pad, and at a fire training pit area,” Battaglia said. “Special probes were used, and they found contamination of the groundwater at the fire training area, not at the old airfield.”
No current depot ten¬ants use the groundwater as a source of drinking water. Rather, a public water supply is used, Battaglia said.
“The Army will do follow-up sampling in May to see if the contamination is getting off the depot property into properties outside the depot that use groundwater,” he said.
Battaglia said Earl Martin, who owns 7,000 acres of former depot land, has been informed of the sampling results. Battaglia said Martin plans to have any farm homestead or other users of water on his land hooked up to the public supply.
Some areas of the depot have restrictions on using groundwater. A feasibility study of the situation will be presented to the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency by Friday.
Battaglia said a public hearing will be scheduled for any remedial plan that is deemed necessary.
The U.S. Department of Defense uncovered the depot’s pollution problem during an investigation into 664 military sites nationwide that used fire¬fighting foam. That foam is believed to be the source of the contamination.
Perfluorooctanoic acid also was used in making non-stick Teflon pots and pans, and stain-resistant carpets. The EPA requires water systems serving at least 10,000 people to test for perfluorooctanoic acid and perfluorooctane sulfonate when they exceed 70 parts per trillion com¬bined in water samples.
The groundwater plumes would tend to migrate in a westerly di¬rection toward the area Martin has designated for Amish and Mennonite farmsteads, Battaglia said.
According to the website www.dwa.gov.za
, a groundwater contamination plume is a body of contaminated groundwater flowing from a specific source. The movement of the groundwater is influenced by such factors as local groundwater flow patterns, the character of the aquifer in which the groundwater is contained, and the density of contaminants. Contamination plumes are important because they can result in groundwater being less fit for use. The extent of the plume can be used to calculate the rate of contaminant migration.