State DEP Says Barnstable Municipal Airport May Be a Contamination Source

KA_Hyannis_Barnstable Airport Planes06111315HYANNIS – The state Department of Environmental Protection has notified Barnstable Municipal Airport officials that water well contamination in Hyannis may be partly their responsibility.

A letter sent from the DEP this week indicates compounds used in firefighting foam have been detected in the groundwater “at or near” the airport.

Deputy Regional Director Gerard Martin, in a letter to Airport Manager Bud Breault, said the agency has reason to believe the airport may have liability for the cleanup and related costs.

Firefighting foams that contained chemicals of “emerging concern” were previously used at the airport.

Chemicals from foams used at the Barnstable County Fire and Rescue Training Academy were believed to be responsible for water well closures in Hyannis earlier this year.

But the letter from the state DEP this week indicates the problem may be more widespread than just runoff from the county facility.

Barnstable Assistant Town Attorney Charles McLaughlin said they were evaluating the letter and consulting with experts on the matter.

A meeting was planned for Friday afternoon between town and airport officials to discuss the issue.

The DEP letter said liability under such a scenario is defined as “strict,” which means that it is not based on fault, “but solely on the status as owner, operator, generator, transporter, disposer or other person specified.”

According to state law, if a group or entity is found responsible, they are required to clean up the contamination, or face sanctions.

Contamination detected earlier this year in the Maher Wells was addressed by blending water from the Yarmouth public water supply system.

State environmental officials said the newest discovery is upgradient of the Mary Dunn wells and includes portions of the airport property.

Additional testing will need to be done to determine if the chemical releases at the airport could be contributing to perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in the Mary Dunn Wells.

In its notice to the airport, the DEP said they will be required to use a licensed site professional to manage and supervise any necessary response actions.

They’re also required to file an Immediate Response Action (IRA) plan to the state on or before December 15, 2016.

By MATT PITTA, News Director

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