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Officials from the City of Madison, Department of National Resources, Wisconsin Air National Guard, Dane County Regional Airport, Department of Military Affairs, and Public Health Madison Dane County met to discuss possible PFAS contamination at two burn pits located on opposite sides of the Truax Air Field. PFAS are a widely used class of chemicals found in firefighting foams, nonstick cookware, food packaging and stain-resistant clothing.

A burn pit on the west side of the air field was used for firefighting training from the 1950s to 1987. A second pit on the east side was used about a dozen times from 1989 to 1993. The Air National Guard met with city, county and state officials to gather input on a statement of work to investigate the pits for PFAS. The investigation will include soil borings and groundwater sampling. The Guard was also receptive to surface water and sediment sampling at nearby Starkweather Creek. The Guard should know by September 30th whether funding will be made available to carry out the investigation.

The burn pits are near Well 15 off East Washington Ave., where six types of PFAS chemicals have been detected at low levels. But Madison Water Utility believes the chemicals are likely coming from the air base itself. PFAS contamination from firefighting foam has been discovered at the base with groundwater concentrations of about 40,000 parts per trillion. But so far there are no plans or funding to address contamination there. Madison Water Utility staff will be drafting a letter to Wisconsin’s representatives in Congress requesting that funds be allocated for the development of an action plan for a groundwater study and remediation at the Air National Guard base.

PFAS chemicals are not currently designated as a hazardous substance by the EPA, nor are they regulated in drinking water. But today, the EPA announced it is moving forward with the process to regulate PFOA and PFOS under the Safe Drinking Water Act. PFOA and PFOS are two of the most well-known and prevalent types of PFAS chemicals.


Water Utility