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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Jan. 18, 2019
Press Release: 19-0007
Contact: Sammy Loud, 907-888-5671, sam.loud@alaska.gov

PFAS Discovered in Groundwater Near Dillingham Airport Firefighting Foam Discharge Areas
DOT&PF immediately offering alternate water source; expanding testing.

(DILLINGHAM, Alaska) – The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (DOT&PF) was recently alerted to concentrations of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) in one well located at the Holy Rosary Church near the Dillingham Airport. Nine wells were sampled on or near airport property. The Holy Rosary Church well tested at 186 parts per trillion (ppt) for the sum of five PFAS compounds, which exceeds the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) action level of 70 ppt. The eight other wells that were tested ranged from not detected to 22 ppt.

The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) began initial sampling of private water wells near airport property in December. DOT&PF has contracted with third-party independent contractor, Shannon & Wilson, Inc. to finish the preliminary investigation, which includes an in-depth well search and sampling.

“The safety of Dillingham residents is of utmost importance. As soon as PFAS were discovered, DOT&PF in collaboration with DEC and Shannon & Wilson, Inc. initiated the process of notifying the impacted residents to provide an alternate source of drinking water,” said John Binder, DOT&PF Deputy Commissioner.

PFAS are commonly used in products for fire suppression, resistance to wear, and repelling oil, stains, grease, and water. PFAS can be found in apparel, some consumer products, and firefighting aqueous film forming foams (AFFF). The use of AFFF during firefighting equipment testing at the Dillingham Airport is the presumed source of PFAS contamination in the affected wells. PFAS are considered emerging contaminants and the health effects are not yet well characterized.

Community members who utilized the Holy Rosary Church as a drinking water source may visit the Dillingham Senior Center, water is available on the north side of the building, between the hours of 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. to refill their jugs until an alternative permanent water solution has been established at the church.

For more information, visit dot.alaska.gov/airportwater/ or contact Sammy Loud, 907-888-5671, airportwater@alaska.gov

To learn more about PFAS, visit the following websites:

The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities oversees 239 airports, 10 ferries serving 35 communities, more than 5,600 miles of highway and 731 public facilities throughout the state of Alaska. The mission of the department is to “Keep Alaska Moving through service and infrastructure.”

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