New tests begin to detect spread of PFAS contamination at Vermont Air Guard base

New tests begin to detect spread of PFAS contamination at Vermont Air Guard base

A second round of testing is now underway across the Burlington airport to see whether chemical contamination at the Vermont Air National Guard base has spread underground beyond the security perimeter.

A first round of soil and water testing, in 2017, confirmed the presence of polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) chemicals. Guard leaders say the contamination came from firefighting foam used by the base’s fire department for years. That foam was discontinued in 2015, a Vermont Guard spokeswoman said.

Col. David Smith, the 158th Fighter Wing Commander, said it’s important to note that residential neighborhoods who surround the base utilize public water supplies and are not impacted by potentially leaching underground chemicals.

The new sampling will involve boring up to 100 feet underground, to test groundwater around the base.

Samples will be sent to a laboratory in California for analyst. Results will be released publicly next winter.

Officials said those results are expected to guide development of a remediation effort around the base, which could run into the millions of dollars.

Smith said no Guard personnel had become ill because of the contamination. The base has installed a new carbon filtration system.

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