State DEP Orders Barnstable County to Conduct More Cleanup Work at Fire Academy

BARNSTABLE – As the result of an October audit by the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), Barnstable County has until the end of February to adequately cleanup the fire and rescue training academy in Hyannis.

The audit was meant to determine whether the county was following the plan for the cleanup it submitted to the County in 2016.

Barnstable County Administrator Jack Yunits says the county’s Assembly of Delegates approved an additional $500,000 of funding for the cleanup. He says that the move proves that county officials have been on top of the situation.

“There’s two parts of this discussion. The first part happens at the Barnstable Conservation Commission, because this work has to go through them as well. So, we’ve been talking about it with the Town of Barnstable for months,” Barnstable County Administrator Jack Yunits explained.

Firefighting foams contain man-made chemicals, or PFAS, that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says has “contaminants of emerging concern.” The chemicals were used up until 2009 at the academy and have been thought to be the likely containment of wells in Hyannis water system.

“We’re in a struggle now because the fire academy is in between the Hyannis plumes and the wells, everything flows through the academy. So, we’ve been in the process for years of trying to pump and treat the plumes before it gets to the wells to minimize the carbon influence on the wells,” Yunits said.

The DEP had ordered the county to complete a list of five objectives by February 28, including expanding the groundwater recovery and treatment at the site; establish a contract carbon replacement company; evaluate the possibility of installing a more efficient layer of protection over the contaminated areas of the site; and establish a future plan for testing water quality samples.

“Some of the other things the DEP mentions in that letter are consistent with what the Barnstable Conservation Commission has asked us to do,” said Yunits.

“That’s to redirect the water flows away from the pond and the so-called hotspot, use better efforts to contain it and minimize it. When you juxtapose how much rain we get here now in Barnstable with the amount of water we use we get four times the amount of rain, so it’s not as vague as simply stopping the flow of water from the fire academy.”

By TIM DUNN, News Center

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