b'ENVIRONMENTAL SMX37While fires that require the use of aqueous film-forming foam areAirport personnel caught a break regarding the 2010 hangar rare, commercial airports are required to store and conduct regularfire, because some employees who responded to the incident training with the foam and test equipment that dispenses it. were still working at SMX. That meant we could ask questions, We initially didnt even know what to do with the Water BoardHastert says. We were able to find out where the foam had been order because we first had to educate ourselves on what PFASsprayed and where the flow of the water went.was, recalls Hastert. We began looking for consultants who could help us with this and who had experience with this type Digging In of testing. The SCS team spent four days in March 2020 taking soil samples using direct push drilling equipment at the designated sites. Surprise! Crews remained diligent about preventing cross contamination With a $4.5 million annual budget, Hastert had immediate concernsfrom the equipment and even from clothes team members were about additional expenses associated with the new testingwearing. There were a lot of precautions that had to be taken, requirements. We dont have a lot of revenue to spend, especiallyotherwise we might have had false positives, Hastert explains. For on surprise costs like the PFAS investigation, he comments.example, people doing the testing couldnt wear clothes cleaned with fabric softener [because it often contains PFAS].Treading completely new territory, the airport hired SCS Engineers to help get its arms around the emerging environmentalResults of the first round tests, which indicated a presence of issue. Straight away, the airport and consulting firm focused onPFAS, prompted the Water Board to request a second work plan developing a common sense approach to the testing process.for additional assessment. That plan was submitted in October We didnt want to drill potholes all over the airport property,2020 and approved in July 2021. During the second round of Hastert recalls. Its a lot of land [2,600 acres] to start pokingtests, crews used a hollow-stem auger rig to drill and collect soil holes to figure out where PFAS is. SCS helped us come up with asamples from a maximum depth of 70 feet, as approved by the scientific approach to where we might identify PFAS at the airportWater Board. A drive sampler was lowered through the auger and where we might want to start testing.and driven into the soil to collect samples. It drives ahead of the drill at selected depths to collect samples that havent been The engineering team concentrated itstouched by our equipment, explains Houser. If those borings initial investigation on areas where PFASshowed issues farther down, then we knew the next round of could most likely be found. We wanted toassessments would require deeper drilling.hit the high points to determine where we thought wed find PFAS, explains ChuckQuality assurance/quality control samples help SCS confirm the Houser, SCS project manager. We wantedeffectiveness of its procedures. So far, we have had no issues to gain a preliminary understanding of theCHUCK HOUSER indicated by the QA/QC sampling and analysis, meaning our presence or traces of PFAS. And then overdecontamination process and the sampling protocols weve used time, we reasoned that we could rule out some areas and start tohave been effective and that weve returned good data, Houser zero in on other areas where there is an issue. reports. Naturally, it was critical to get the state regulatory body toDuring the second round of testing, the airport also installed approve the game plan. We worked closely with the Water Boardseven groundwater monitoring wells where PFAS was detected staff, says Hastert. They were very reasonable and took time toduring the first round of testing. That involved drilling along an meet with us to discuss the methods we were proposing. active runway, so crews waited until after the last flight of the evening to begin working. The project team submitted its initial work plan in October 2019 and received approval from the Water Board by late DecemberThat was a very drawn-out process, recalls Hastert. We the same year. The plan targeted four main areas: the airport firedidnt want to shut down a runway during the day, so all the work station where firefighting foam was/is stored, the former racetrackwas done in the middle of the night. area in the southern part of the airfield where nozzle testingAgricultural and community supply wells near the airport were took place, and two locations where foam was used duringalso tested. emergenciesat a hangar where an aircraft caught fire in 2010,The results of second round tests, which documented traces and near Runway 30-12 and Taxiway A6, where a general aviationof PFAS at several sites, were reported to the Water Board in airplane landed without its landing gear down in 2007. November 2021. It then requested plans for a third round of Identifying the four areas for initial testing took investigativeassessment, which will be submitted by mid-October 2022.work by airport staff. We had to go through our past incident reports and figure out which incidents may or may not have hadJust the Starting Pointfoam applied, Hastert explains. We looked for historical pictures,Thus far, SMX has spent about $200,000 on testingmuch less even from the local newspaper, to see if we could get visualthan if it had tested the entire property, notes Hastert. We could confirmation that an incident involved foam, because it was neverhave easily hired a consultant that wanted to drill and sample wells recorded by the fire department what extinguishing agents may orall around the airport, spread 100 feet apart from each other, he may not have been used. remarks. Three quarters of them could have come up clean, and AirportImprovement.comOctober 2022'