Tens of thousands of gallons of hazardous firefighting foam containing PFAS now set to be picked up from nearly 150 Connecticut fire departments.
“We do know a fairly close number of about 40,000 gallons,” State Fire Administrator Jeff Morrissette said.
It’s a take back program nearly two years in the making.
“The accidental release here at Bradley Airport did create a lot of public outcry if you will,” Morrissette said.
The foam is used to extinguish flammable liquids during emergencies like a tanker truck fire or most notably, the B-17 vintage plane crash at Bradley. It was the accidental spill of foam into the Farmington River in 2019 that lead to a fish advisory and the creation of a state task force to address the presence of PFAS statewide.
PFAS, known as “forever chemicals” have been linked to health risks ranging from developmental effects in fetuses and infants and certain forms of cancer.
Morrissette notified state, regional and municipal fire departments Thursday of the two-prong approach to ridding the state of the foam. The first step involves an environmental services company that can safely dispose of it.
“We expect fire departments to begin receiving communication within about two weeks from Clean Harbors to begin scheduling the actual pickups at fire department locations across the state,” Morrissette said.
Morrissette says that process is expected to take around 60 days. The second stage involves removing foam from state fire trailers and municipal fire trucks.
“Kind of equated to you empty out your soap jug and it’s empty but there’s still so product in there,” Jay Kelly, equipment technician for Bristol Fire Department said.
Kelly said he looks forward to clearing the chemical out of his trucks and learning about the alternative foam recommendations the state will make next. These are changes he said that will help eliminate firefighters exposure to the harmful substance in the foam known to cause adverse health effects including some cancers.
“Personally they’re going to be protected they’re not going to be any contaminants in the foam,” Kelly said.