W&M Conducts PFAS Assessment at Former Firefighting Training Facility
W&M, a Division of Braun Intertec, provided environmental support to a real estate development company to assess a former City of San Antonio municipal service center for potential purchase and redevelopment. The southwestern portion of the 29-acre facility had been used for decades for fire-fighter training, which prompted assessment of groundwater for the presence of per-and polyfluorinated substances (PFAS). Assessment was conducted in accordance with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) Texas Risk Reduction Program (TRRP) rules.
PFAS refers to a group of chemicals that are manufactured in a variety of industries and can be found as a primary ingredient in firefighting foams, nonstick cookware, waterproof fabrics, and many other popular products. PFAS chemicals are slow to degrade in the environment and have been found in public water systems, airports, industrial and manufacturing facilities, military bases and firefighting training sites.
W&M performed a comprehensive environmental investigation which consisted of soil, soil-gas, and groundwater assessment. As part of the affected property assessment, W&M installed two permanent groundwater monitoring wells in the vicinity of former fire training burn pits and collected groundwater samples for analysis of PFAS using isotope dilution method DV-LC-0012. Groundwater samples collected from the monitoring well installed in the source area contained several PFAS compounds, which is consistent with the use of fire suppression chemicals. Concentrations of PFAS compounds exceeded groundwater ingestion protective concentration levels (PCLs) established in Texas under TRRP. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has not yet established federal regulatory limits for PFAS in drinking water.
Concurrently, a municipal setting designation (MSD) was being pursued for the property which would restrict potable use of the underlying groundwater, thereby eliminating the potential for groundwater ingestion and excluding the associated regulatory levels from the assessment. Maximum concentrations of PFAS detected in groundwater were well below the PCLs for inhalation of groundwater vapors. Hence, with the MSD, response actions associated with PFAS-affected groundwater would not be required in order to meet applicable (inhalation) PCLs.
The Affected Property Assessment Report, which included assessment of the entire facility for several other chemicals of concern, was submitted to the TCEQ under Voluntary Cleanup Program (VCP), which is the most stringent environmental assessment program in the state of Texas.