Jul 21, 2020

PFAS Found in Santa Maria Public Airport Groundwater Samples

Samples from the groundwater and soil from Santa Maria Airport in Santa Maria, California found levels of PFAS. 


pfas contamination

Groundwater and soil samples taken in March from the Santa Maria Public Airport in Santa Maria, California, found levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), according to a preliminary state investigation report released in June.

Samples were taken from numerous sites at the airport, according to the report released June 1 by the State Water Resources Control Board, according to the Santa Maria Times. A total of 14 samples across eight sites were taken in March 2020. 

This report was prompted by a March 2019 order from the board to investigate levels of the chemicals at the airport.

Samples show that the PFAS levels were high, but the water tested is not used for drinking, according to Water Resources Control Board spokesman Edward Ortiz. The full report can be viewed at geotracker.waterboards.ca.gov.

"It’s way too early in the process to determine what’s not good, since the investigation is at the phase where the goal is to establish whether and to what amount there is PFAS there," Ortiz said, reported the Santa Maria Times.

The PFAS are in aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF), which is stored at the airport and used by the Santa Maria Fire Department. 

Back in Feb. 2019, the Santa Maria Airport just purchased new equipment allowing the fire department to test its fire-fighting foam, with the goal of protecting the environment, according to KEYT. The device is used to test the concentration of water versus foam. The new device means testing the foam will not affect groundwater or small animals.

"We are not putting that foam out on the ground anymore," said Mike Farmer, Battalion Chief for the city of Santa Maria Fire Department, reported KEYT. "It's actually running through the system that we purchased, keeps the foam inside the vehicle, and doesn't put the foam out into the environment."

The next phase of the investigation will likely deal with clean-up, Ortiz said.

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