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Ford airport reports first results of groundwater testing

June 21, 2018
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Gerald R. Ford Airport
Gerald R. Ford International Airport is served by six passenger airlines with 120 daily scheduled non-stop flights to and from 24 major market destinations. Courtesy Ford airport

The initial results of groundwater testing are in at Gerald R. Ford International Airport.

Ford airport said this week the first results of the multi-step process show levels below Michigan criteria for cleanup.

Individual site results for poly-fluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, range from 2.7 parts per trillion, or ppt, to 54 ppt. The cutoff for cleanup is 70 ppt.

The highest levels of PFAS presence were at the well closest to the airport’s former firefighting training area, which was de-activated over 20 years ago.

The use of firefighting material known as AFFF, or aqueous film-forming foam, is an FAA requirement for all U.S. commercial airports, and has therefore been used to extinguish jet-fuel fires and on related firefighting training at airports for many years, according to the airport.

All of the AFFF formulations contain some sort of PFAS, said Jim Gill, president and CEO, Ford airport.

Although test results are within acceptable standards, the airport is developing a plan to perform off-site groundwater testing.

The plan will include some private residential wells, and those property owners will be contacted by the end of the month regarding next steps.

“We pride ourselves on being good neighbors, and we are committed to going above and beyond regulatory requirements,” Gill said. “To us, it is worth taking the extra steps on behalf of the community.”

Other next steps will include analyzing results and defining future efforts in collaboration with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and Kent County Health Department.

“Based on the results that GFIA shared, we are confident that they have a plan in place and are moving forward in the best interest of the public,” said Adam London, administrative health officer, Kent County Health Department. “KCHD will continue to monitor and provide our expertise and support, and we applaud the airport’s efforts going above and beyond in its response.”

Ford airport’s initial groundwater test results have been verified by North Canton, Ohio-based Test America, an EPA-certified laboratory that conducted the analyses, as well as the Ann Arbor-based environmental engineering and science firm LimnoTech, which developed the investigation plan and oversees the sampling.

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