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Today the Dane County Regional Airport (DCRA) released the results of more testing for PFAS in the soil and shallow groundwater of two historic fire training areas. PFAS are a large group of man-made chemicals that are fire resistant, and repel oil, stains, grease, and water, and PFAS at the airport is assumed to largely come from firefighting foams used in trainings to contain oil-based fires, including jet fuel fires. The Madison Fire Department stopped using these foams in 2019. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has determined that the City, County, and Wisconsin Air National Guard share responsibility for the sites as historic owners or users of the sites. A report of test results can be found on the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources website here under Activity # 02-13-583366.

The testing confirms the presence of PFAS in the soil and shallow groundwater in and around the fire training areas at significant levels. Questions still remain about how the samples at these sites compare to surrounding areas, and how shallow groundwater moves around the site and toward Starkweather Creek. The City continues to work with the Airport, the Air National Guard, and the DNR to scope further actions.

These test results come alongside news that the federal government is launching a remedial investigation of their property, which is also a source of PFAS contamination.
It’s important to note that pollution levels found in this study are from shallow groundwater that is separate from the deep aquifers the City uses for drinking water. PFAS are regularly monitored in drinking water and levels at all city wells remain far below proposed regulatory thresholds.