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How has Connecticut mitigated against PFAS? State task force reviews its progress

There are a number of initiatives in the works to address PFAS in drinking water.
AFP via Getty Images
There are a number of initiatives in the works to address PFAS in drinking water.

A state task force met in-person Thursday for the first time in three years to examine how Connecticut has mitigated against the pollution of PFAS chemicals from its land and waters.

“We are sharing information between states, our federal partners, academia, and the regulated community,” said Katie Dykes, commissioner for the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. “We’re studying surface water quality and fish tissue at and around our wastewater treatment plants and we’re addressing polluted private drinking water wells, these are some of the key areas of focus.”

The task force was set up after a major spill of PFAS chemicals at Bradley International Airport in June 2019 from a private hangar that polluted the Farmington River.

Robert Bruno, the director of planning, engineering and environmental services at the Connecticut Airport Authority, said a major contributor to pollution has been firefighting foam.

“Bradley has 13 hangers with PFAS foam. Seven of them have been removed and are now utilizing a water-based system. Two hangars we are working with now to replace with a PFAS-free foam and that will be completed by the legislative mandate of October 2023,” Bruno said. “As far as general aviation airports, we had a total of six hangers with PFAS foam systems, four of those hangars systems have been removed.”

An investigation is also underway into the source of PFAS pollution in drinking water wells in the state, especially in Killingworth.

State health officials have supplied around 30 homes with filter systems to help remove the contamination while they continue to investigate other sources of PFAS.

PFAS are a set of thousands of different chemicals used in everyday items like waterproofing spray, non-stick pots, and food containers like pizza boxes that have been found to have long-term health effects.

An award-winning freelance reporter/host for WSHU, Brian lives in southeastern Connecticut and covers stories for WSHU across the Eastern side of the state.