Nantucket Memorial Airport personnel responded Wednesday morning to a spill of roughly five gallons of firefighting foam due to a mechanical failure on one of its vehicles.
“Airport staff immediately recognized the issue and responded to contain the spill to the airport’s ramp area and isolate it from aircraft and vehicle traffic,” the airport stated in a press release.
The aqueous film forming foam, or AFFF, that was released Wednesday morning is the same substance that has caused properties south of the the airport to become contaminated with PFAS, the so-called “forever chemicals” that are suspected to increase the risk of kidney and testicular cancers, as well as other health conditions. The 5 gallons of AFFF concentrate was released as part of a water solution.
The spill happened around 8:30 a.m. adjacent to the Airport Rescue and Firefighting Facility, and a crew could be seen Wednesday morning from the airport fence working to clean-up the area. The nature of the mechanical failure that caused the spill is unknown at this time, and the vehicle has been taken out of service. Airport operations were unaffected.
“The airport routinely exercises its Rescue and Firefighting equipment using a foam proportioning cart that allows for internal recirculation to facilitate required testing of the foam proportioning system,” the airport said. “This cart enables the airport to perform its required testing without discharging PFAS-containing foams into the environment. The testing and use of PFAS-containing AFFF is a requirement of the Federal Aviation Administration for airports across the U.S., including ACK, though the aport industry remains hopeful that the FAA will phase out this requirement in 2023.”