The Rhode Island Air National Guard (RIANG) and its state and federal partners, including the interagency technical advisory committee on PFAS convened by the Rhode Island Department of Health, are working to keep the public informed about the potential presence of PFAS at Rhode Island Air National Guard installations. In addition, the U.S. Secretary of Defense has mandated the Department of Defense and the National Guard Bureau (NGB) inform the local community of PFAS contamination at a military installation. See links below for more detailed PFAS information.
Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS) and Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) are part of a class of synthetic chemicals referred to as per‐ and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). PFAS are used in a variety of products and applications, including non‐stick cookware, upholstered furniture, carpeting, clothing, food packing, industrial processes, and firefighting foam. PFAS compounds are persistent in the environment because of their chemical properties, and they have been known to cause drinking water aquifer contamination.
Historically, PFAS was found in firefighting foam, specifically, Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF). AFFF is used by the military, aviation industry, as well as the oil and gas industry to extinguish fuel fires.
The Air Force is in the process of replacing legacy firefighting foam that contains PFAS. In 2017, all AFFF used at Quonset Air National Guard Base (QANGB) by the 143d Fire Department was replaced with an Air Force‐approved, environmentally friendly formulation. There is no Air Force use or testing of AFFF at QANGB and no current or historical use of AFFF at North Smithfield Air National Guard Station (NSANGS).
Quonset Air National Guard BaseThe National Guard Bureau funded a PFAS investigation for QANGB in 2017. The investigation concluded, that legacy releases of PFOS/PFOA are present in soil, groundwater, and stormwater according to testing performed at four areas on base where fire‐fighting foam was historically used or where emergency response vehicles containing AFFF were repaired. The releases impacted the soil, groundwater and stormwater at the installation at localized areas, however due to the industrial history of Quonset Point, there are no impacts to community drinking water.
QANGB is not located within a drinking water aquifer. Therefore, no drinking water sources are impacted. Regardless, all AF installations with PFAS contamination will proceed with a Remedial Investigation under the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA).
North Smithfield Air National Guard Station (GSU)PFAS is present in the groundwater, therefore -- in the installation’s drinking water, at low levels. The impact is minimal and concentrations are well below the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Lifetime Health Advisory for drinking water. The source of PFAS is unknown, and releases of AFFF foam are not known to have occurred on the base.