CASCADE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — A delay in testing for PFAS at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport will leave anxious residents waiting for months to learn how much of the likely carcinogen has seeped into their groundwater.
In a letter obtained by Target 8, airport officials said they don’t expect to get results of PFAS tests until June and won’t share them until they are verified, likely in July or August.
A spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Quality said the agency wants to meet with the airport next week to discuss its response, including the delay.
The DEQ asked the airport to investigate after a Target 8 report into the use of PFAS-tainted firefighting foam there.
Three former airport fire chiefs told Target 8 they used the foam extensively for several decades until about 2000, mostly for training.
The chiefs said they were worried that the likely carcinogen could have spread into a nearby neighborhood of about 400 homes, most with wells.
In the letter to the DEQ, the airport objected to the state’s request for an investigation.
“The Airport continues to deny that any AFFF (aqueous film-forming foam) that has been used on Airport property is or contains ‘hazardous substances’ regulated by MDEQ during all relevant time periods,” according to the letter written by the airport’s Engineering & Facilities Director Casey W. Ries.
Despite that, consultants for the airport have drilled five wells to monitor groundwater on airport property. They’ve also taken 10 shallow soil borings.
Airport officials said results were delayed because the first lab couldn’t properly conduct the PFAS tests.
That led the airport to send samples to a new lab, with a turnaround time of three to four weeks.
Those results could lead to testing outside the airport.
Already, private labs hired by several anxious residents have detected low levels of PFAS in private wells in the neighborhood along the Thornapple River.