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Gustavus Airport Firefighting Testing Area Contamination

Page updated 09/14/2020   Go back to PFAS Home Page

September 2020 Gustavus Well Search Map

Above: Gustavus Water Sampling Results as of September 2020
(click image for larger view)

Community Outreach


DOT&PF was alerted in late July 2018 to concentrations of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) in the groundwater at Gustavus Airport. The presumed source of PFAS in groundwater at the Gustavus Airport is the Federal Aviation Administration-mandated use of fire-fighting foams at Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting (ARFF) testing areas.

Since then, DOT&PF has worked with an environmental consulting firm, Shannon & Wilson, Inc., and the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to identify and sample private water wells around the airport. Water sampling was conducted in August, late September / early October, and late October / early November 2018.

Based on those samples, PFAS in 19 wells are reported in concentrations above DEC action levels. Of these, one well serves the Alaska Airlines and Alaska Seaplanes terminals, six wells are used for airplane washing or other non-drinking water uses, and 12 are private or business wells used for drinking water. One of these well results is due to city fire fighting foam use. Concentrations at many private wells and the well which serves the National Park Service water system are below DEC action levels. Many sampled wells show negligible PFAS levels. Based on sample results, the airport-generated plume boundaries appear to be identified within the shallow drinking water zone but further site characterization will confirm this.

To date, DOT&PF’s priority in Gustavus has been to identify and provide safe drinking water to those who need it. DOT&PF is providing alternative drinking water impacted properties.

Together with DEC and engineering consultants, DOT&PF has begun to assess options for long-term solution to provide clean drinking water. DOT&PF is also beginning site characterization, to determine the specific characteristics of the plume, spread, and influencing hydrology.

In order to track PFAS movement in groundwater, DEC requires continued quarterly monitoring of wells with sample results above 35 parts per trillion (ppt) (in yellow on map) and annual monitoring of wells with sample results above 17.5 ppt (in light green on map). In addition to concentration, wells within 500 feet of impacted wells with PFAS concentrations greater than 17.5 ppt qualify for monitoring.

In June 2019 Shannon & Wilson, Inc. conducted quarterly monitoring. During this event, Shannon & Wilson, Inc. also made contact with property owners with drinking water wells located in the previously established sampling area that they had not been able to obtain samples from. Of these new samples, one well located on the same property as a previous exceedance, sampled above the EPA’s LHA level.

In November 2019 Shannon & Wilson, Inc conducted a quarterly sampling event. Approximately 12 samples were collected during this event. Of the sampled wells, one new well serving four structures exceeded the EPA’s LHA level. A total of 20 wells have been reported to have PFAS concentrations above the actionable levels that the department is responsible for.

Those who participated in the sampling event will receive a copy of their results at the mailing address they provided. If you have questions regarding sample results please email

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For more information, please contact us.

For questions about testing & study:

Shannon & Wilson, Inc.
Kristen Freiburger, Project Manager

For regulatory questions:

Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, 
Contaminated Site Program
Bill O’Connell, Environmental Program Manager

Erin Gleason, Environmental Program Specialist III

Division of Spill Prevention and Response website:

For questions about PFAS health effects:

Alaska Department of Health & Social Services
Sarah Yoder, Public Health Scientist

Division of Public Health Website:

For claim filing instructions:

Alaska Department of Administration
Division of Risk Management
Ken Simpson, Claims Administrator
PO Box 110218
Juneau, AK 99811-0218

For questions about Gustavus Airport Firefighting Testing Area and all other inquiries:

Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities
Statewide Aviation
Sammy Cummings, PFAS Program Manager