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NYS DEC Receives Results From Firefighting Foam Release

Courtesy of Riverkeeper

The New York state Department of Environmental Conservation has received validated results from April’s accidental release of firefighting foam from New York Stewart International Airport in Orange County. DEC says more testing is required by the company that operates the hangar where the spill occurred.

The firefighting foam had made its way into a stream from the April 13 accidental release, and a consultant for the City of Newburgh took samples the following day. Those results from Silver Stream and a tributary showed levels of PFAS chemicals in excess of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency health advisory of 70 parts per trillion. One sample showed PFOS at 1,130 parts per trillion. New York’s DEC has just received its separate, validated results that also show PFOS, some higher than the EPA health advisory. DEC spokeswoman Erica Ringewald says the agency’s investigation into the April spill is ongoing.

“DEC directed the responsible party to deploy all available resources to assist with the cleanup and to ensure the public health and the environment are protected,” Ringewald says. “DEC also required the responsible party to sample the foam concentrate in the storage tank, and to sample throughout the impacted watershed to determine the full extent of the impact. If DEC finds violations, we will take any and all appropriate enforcement actions.”

The hangar from where the firefighting foam was accidentally released belongs to Atlantic Aviation. Spokesman Bryant Madden says Atlantic Aviation continues to coordinate closely with state officials to study and remediate the situation. He says, “Protecting the environment is a top priority and we are working tirelessly to complete a thorough investigation and cleanup.”

Following Newburgh’s results, Madden had said the foam released is a C6 blend, not a C8 foam containing PFOS or PFOA. The information is on the material safety data sheet supplied by the foam’s manufacturer. Still to be determined is whether the PFOS is actually in the foam itself, or if it remained in the storage tank from incomplete flushing of the tank when the previous foam was replaced. 

Regarding the DEC’s results, Newburgh City Manager Joseph Donat says, "I am not surprised by the validated results. As soon as we learned about the discharge, the City took it upon itself to test Silver Stream. Our results were validated internally and reinforced by the results shared by the DEC.”

In April, following the city’s results, Donat had said:

“However, the vulnerability of our watershed obviously continues to grow as time goes on. And this is yet another example of how serious the issue is and the critical need for the city to find a permanent, long-term, safe solution to this ongoing risk.”

The April release does not impact the city’s current water source. And the city’s former main drinking water source, Washington Lake, below Silver Stream, has not been in use since PFOS contamination was announced three years ago. That contamination emanates from Stewart Air National Guard base as the result of the historic use of firefighting foam there.

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