Environmental Project

Multi-Media Sampling for Fire Training Facilities

Confidential Client, Western US

Solution Overview

Client:

Confidential Client

Business Challenge:

Apex is investigating per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in soil, groundwater, surface water, stormwater, and sediment at a fire training facility.

Solution:

Apex has conducted several rounds of assessment to determine whether PFAS was present in sampled media and then to define the magnitude and extent of PFAS impacts at the site and downgradient.

Results:

PFAS have been detected in multiple media at the site, but exposures are below the current relevant standards. Apex continuously monitors the regulatory environment in all 50 states which allows our client to proactively consider the range of pending and promulgated US Standards to assess PFAS impacts for this ongoing project.

Challenge

On behalf of our client and in collaboration with state and local regulatory agencies, Apex is investigating per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in soil, groundwater, surface water, stormwater, and sediment at a former fire training facility.

Fire training facilities across the country historically have used aqueous film forming foam (AFFF) which contains PFAS. Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) have been the primary PFAS historically used as agents in AFFF and produced in the largest quantities within the United States. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has determined that the toxicity, mobility, and bioaccumulation characteristics of PFOS and PFOA pose potentially adverse effects for the environment and human health.1

The fire-fighting community is in a difficult situation, caught between the use of highly effective AFFF for extinguishing petroleum fueled fires and the impacts to human health and the environment from releases of PFAS. For example, airports are in a unique situation with PFAS in that they are regulated under Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) regulations and guidance, which identify the type, testing, use and training that has been required for lawful use of AFFF. The requirements governing the type of AFFF, frequency of live-fire training, and equipment testing protocols at airports has varied over the past four decades since AFFF was original developed. Since 2002, airports have been required to store, maintain and use military-specified AFFF in accordance with current FAA codes and regulations. Prior to 2002, the FAA required that airports use AFFF that met the Underwriters Laboratory (UL) Foam Equipment and Liquid Concentrates standard (UL 162) but recommended airports provide greater aircraft rescue and firefighting capability. Consequently, AFFF Military Spec was used at over 75% of civil aviation facilities.

Solution

Apex has conducted several rounds of assessment to determine whether PFAS was present in sampled media and then to define the magnitude and extent of PFAS impacts at the site and downgradient. Samples were collected in accordance with the Apex Standard Operating Procedures (SOP), as well as project-specific sampling and analysis procedures for avoidance of PFAS cross-contamination. Finding elevated concentrations of PFAS in soil and groundwater led to additional investigation surface water and sediments and expanded groundwater monitoring. Continued monitoring to delineate the extent of PFAS may lead to a remediation plan, if necessary. Groundwater in the site vicinity is currently used for irrigation, landscaping, and golf courses.

Results

Since there are no current regulatory standards for PFAS components in most states, Apex continuously monitors the regulatory environment in all 50 states. This allows our client to proactively consider the range of pending and promulgated US Standards to assess PFAS impacts for this ongoing project.

1EPA (US Environmental Protection Agency). 2017. Technical Fact Sheet – Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS) and Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA).
https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2017-12/documents/ffrrofactsheet_contaminants_pfos_pfoa_11-20-17_508_0.pdf.

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