July 12, 2019 – update from CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection
July 3, 2019 – Update
Below are materials that were presented during the public information meeting held on July 2, 2019 at town hall.
The Town of Windsor has been working with the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) and the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) in response to a discharge of firefighting foam from a private enterprise into the Farmington River earlier in June.
- Use of the river for recreational activities is allowed.
- State DPH is advising that fish caught from the Farmington River in the vicinity of the MDC wastewater treatment plant outfall near Phelps Brook, downstream to the Connecticut River, should NOT be eaten. This advisory will remain in place while officials evaluate the impact to the fish tissue and the watershed and is likely to last through much of the summer.
- Additional long-term monitoring of the river and sediments is planned with oversight by the Connecticut DEEP.
Updates will be shared on town media platforms as additional information becomes available. For more information about the chemicals involved, known as PFAS, visit:
CT DPH’s PFAS webpage: https://portal.ct.gov/DPH/Drinking-Water/DWS/Per–and-Polyfluoroalkyl-Substances
CT DEEP’s Emerging Contaminants webpage: https://www.ct.gov/deep/cwp/view.asp?a=2715&q=581988&deepNav_GID=1626
Frequently Asked Questions
On June 8th, an equipment malfunction at a private hangar at Bradley International Airport resulted in a discharge of firefighting foam into a drain connected to the municipal sewer system, ultimately leading to the MDC wastewater treatment plant in Windsor and discharging into the Farmington River. This foam contains per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, commonly referred to as “PFAS.” PFAS may increase your risk of developing a variety of health effects. These include effects on growth and development (fetus, infant and children), on the immune and endocrine systems, and the thyroid, liver, and kidneys (everyone). Some studies have also shown a cancer risk at very high exposure levels (kidney, testicular). In the weeks since, the responsible company, Signature Flight, has hired an environmental engineering firm to help with the clean-up process and is cooperating and working closely with the Connecticut Airport Authority (CAA) and the state Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (DEEP) to gain a larger understanding of the situation, to remove as much foam from the river as possible, and to begin greater efforts to understand what the long-term impacts may be to the ecosystem.
Sampling of water and fish species is expected to take place during the week of July 1st, with additional environmental sampling expected to continue over the summer into the fall. State agencies and others are moving as quickly as they can, but it will take time to ensure that a scientifically acceptable set of protocols are developed and implemented as testing continues. More information will be announced by state agencies once this testing has been completed.
Recreational activities, including boating, tubing, and swimming are allowed on the river. State agencies have advised that fish caught from the Farmington River in the vicinity of the MDC wastewater treatment plant outfall near Phelps Brook, downstream to where it enters the Connecticut River, should not be eaten. This advisory will remain in place until officials have an opportunity to evaluate laboratory data on the fish tissue samples.
Over the past few weeks, there has been an effort to remove all of the foam visibly floating on the surface of the river. Water samples were taken from several points on the river on June 9th, 11th and June 21st in an attempt to see how the chemicals are diffusing. Results from the first two sets of samples show a significant reduction in presence of PFAS chemicals. Results from the June 21st samples are not yet available. The engineering firm retained by Signature Flight is now working alongside DEEP to develop a longer term monitoring and testing plan. As of June 28th, information is not yet available for the DEEP to conclude whether or not remediation will be necessary on any part of the river.
The Connecticut Airport Authority has also taken a variety of steps in the past weeks ranging from evaluating all of their facilities that have foam fire suppression systems to putting in place temporary prevention measures to limit any future discharges of foam agents containing PFAS chemicals into drainage systems.