The Air Force has completed its Relative Risk Site Evaluation of possible groundwater contaminants for the former Griffiss Air Force Base to support environmental restoration work. BRAC Environmental Coordinator David Farnsworth said the Air Force is advising the public that they’ve done an evaluation and have released information they’ve collected so far on the testing, which will be used to “prioritize future work going forward” as far as remediation and environmental restoration.
The RRSE process is used to evaluate the relative risk posed by an environmental restoration site in relation to other sites. The Department of Defense prioritizes “worst first,” meaning the DoD addresses sites that pose a relatively greater potential risk to public safety, human health, or the environment before sites posing a lesser risk.
“There is no threat to the public water supply,” said Mayor Jacqueline M. Izzo Friday in relation to the RRSE results, adding that sites at Griffiss had a low threshold of exposure. She said there is no risk to drinking water for residents who use the city water supply.
In summary, that means Griffiss would be deemed a lower priority for receiving funding for remediation work as compared to other sites where contamination was found to be at much higher levels.
Relative risk is not the sole factor in determining the sequence of environmental restoration work, but it is an important consideration in the process. Farnsworth said work related to the RRSE involved evaluating contaminants related to two compounds that had been used in the past at Griffiss for firefighting and fire training efforts. The foam was used at locations where potentially catastrophic fuel fires could occur, such as in a plane crash. It contains perfluorooctane sulfonate and perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOS and PFOA, both considered emerging contaminants by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Back in 2014, Farnsworth said the Air Force started conducting a preliminary assessment, speaking with individuals formerly associated with the base to see if those chemicals were used and where they were stored. A Preliminary Assessment was completed and published in 2015.
The Air Force “did additional testing in the training area in 2014, then in 2016, did a Site Inspection and went to each area of the assessment. Compounds were present in 18 to 19 areas,” Farnsworth said. “An AFFF (Aqueous film-forming foam) report in November 2018” documented those results and “looked at several areas across the base and just did an initial sampling to see” if chemicals were found in the groundwater and soil samples.
The PA and the Relative Risk Site Evaluation are on the Administrative Record.
According to a story published by the Daily Sentinel in March 2016, the military began checking whether chemicals from firefighting foam might have contaminated groundwater at hundreds of sites nationwide, including the former Griffiss AFB, and…
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