Apr 29, 2020

PFAS Fallout Discovered Near Incinerator in Upstate New York

PFAS have contaminated soil and water near an incinerator in in Cohoes, New York 

pfas contamination

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) have contaminated soil and water near an incinerator in upstate New York that has been burning firefighting foam. 

The facility is run by Norlite, whose parent company Tradebe contracted with the Department of Defense (DoD) to burn the foam known as AFFF, reported the Intercept. 

An analysis of three soil and four water samples collected near the Norlite incinerator in Cohoes, New York, revealed the presence of 10 PFAS compounds associated with the foam, according to the Intercept. The levels of the chemicals in soil and water declined with distance from the plant.

Measurements of PFOS were twice as high downwind from the facility than upwind, according to David Bond, professor of environmental studies at Bennington College, who conducted the testing along with some of his students.

There is a strong indication of airborne deposition of PFAS from ineffective incineration of AFFF at the Norlite facility, said Bond.

In 2016, the Department of Defense decided to stop using PFOS and PFOA in AFFF, but continued using a newer formulation of the foam containing closely related compounds in the same class.

In a 2017 request for proposals, the Air Force alleged that “no satisfactory disposal method has been identified” for AFFF and that its incineration may not fully destroy PFAS in the foam. In November 2018, more than 1 million gallons of stockpiled foam collected from the Army, Navy, National Guard and Marine installations were incinerated.

In a statement, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) wrote that data appears to be consistent with low background levels observed in urban areas in emerging scientific studies. The facility, which is temporarily closed while it is installing new scrubbers, is not currently incinerating this waste, according to the DEC.

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