Connecticut Officials Advise Against Eating Some Fish From The Farmington River

Oct 10, 2019
Originally published on October 8, 2019 9:45 am

A ban on consuming fish taken from a portion of the Farmington River will likely remain in place “at a minimum” for the remainder of the year, the state said. 

The timeline from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection comes following two high-profile discharges of per-and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS) at Bradley Airport.

Last week, about 25,000 gallons of firefighting solution containing PFAS were used when a World War II era plane crashed at Bradley and caught fire. The crash killed seven people. 

The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) said some of that firefighting foam then got into storm drains at Bradley, working its way south to Rainbow Brook, a tributary of the Farmington River.

PFAS is a family of chemicals associated with immune system problems and cancer.

“It was quickly contained, not a hundred percent, but a great amount of the material was vacuumed up a short distance from the airport itself,” said Ray Frigon, assistant director at DEEP’s remediation division.

He said at this point, his agency isn’t aware of any impacts downstream to the Farmington. Still...

“There may be small pockets of foam that could reach the Farmington,” Frigon said. “That is entirely possible. Especially given that we have substantial rains in the forecast for the remainder of this week.”

Residents are advised to avoid any foam spotted either on the water or on the banks of water in the area downstream of the spill. 

Meanwhile, the preliminary results of tests conducted following another, unrelated, PFAS spill in June were announced last week. 

Those results showed “elevated levels” of PFAS chemicals in fish taken from the Farmington River in Windsor. 

Tests were conducted after PFAS-filled firefighting foam accidently spilled out of a private hangar at Bradley, made its way into the sanitary sewer, and, eventually, through an outflow station that drains into the Farmington River. 

Frigon said it’s likely that ban will remain in place, “at a minimum” for the remainder of the year.

Copyright 2019 Connecticut Public Radio. To see more, visit Connecticut Public Radio.