Jan 25, 2019

Flint, Mich., Airport Finds Elevated Levels of PFAS in Groundwater

While the airport does not use the groundwater for drinking, the contamination may impact surrounding private wells

Emerging contaminants found in groundwater at Flint, Mich., airport
Emerging contaminants found in groundwater at Flint, Mich., airport

Elevated levels of per- and polyfluoralkyl substances (PFAS) have been found in groundwater at Bishop Airport, located in Flint, Mich. One test revealed groundwater contamination as high as 1,236 ppt for PFAS.

According to local news source MLive, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) collected six groundwater samples from monitoring wells throughout the airport property. The land previously was used as a landfill by the city of Flint from 1966 to 1975, which may contribute to the high levels of contamination found. The testing also revealed PFOS and PFOA levels of 176 ppt, exceeding the state’s standard of 12 ppt for PFOS.

The airport uses water from the Karegnondi Water Authority rather than groundwater from the property, according to Pat Corfman, a Bishop spokeswoman. However, the state plans to implement a monitoring well network to assess the potential impact the groundwater contamination may have on the drinking water aquifer as well as surrounding private wells. Furthermore, the airport is investigating ways to limit storm water runoff from the old landfill area to surrounding sites.

“The list of PFAS contamination sites across our state continues to grow and grow as a direct result of decades of negligent environmental safety regulations," said Michigan Sen. Jim Ananich, D-Flint. “I’ve said it a million times: Michiganders deserve to be able to trust the water from their taps, and that cannot happen until legislation is passed to strengthen water safety rules and to hold corporate polluters accountable.”

Bishop Airport’s PFAS groundwater contamination joins a growing list of sites facing similar emerging contaminant issues across the state, including Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids, Parchment, and an Ottawa County elementary school.