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Investigating and Responding to PFAS Detection on and Near the Airport

Nantucket Memorial Airport has responded to concerns about the presence of Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (“PFAS”) in drinking water down-gradient from the Airport property associated with the release of firefighting foam during tests mandated by the Federal Aviation Administration. Working with a licensed environmental consultant, the Airport learned that some, but not all drinking water wells in the affected area show PFAS levels in excess of reportable concentrations set by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.

Where warranted by the test results, the Airport has immediately provided affected residents with bottled drinking water and has initiated the installation in those homes of a point-of-entry treatment (“POET”) filtering system, which has proven effective in removing PFAS from drinking water. Bottled water and the POET installation have been provided at the Airport’s expense.

PFAS compounds are man-made chemicals that includes PFOA, PFOS, PFNA, PFHxS, and PFHpA and other chemicals (refer to MassDEP Fact Sheet below for further details). These chemicals are found in many industrial, household and consumer products in addition to firefighting foam. 

The Airport continues to work with its consultant in determining whether further testing and remedial action is mandated. It is also exploring the availability of reimbursement for its PFAS- related expenses from FAA, other government agencies, as well as potentially responsible third parties. 

The Airport has also taken steps to prevent any further release of fire-fighting foam into the environment as a result of required equipment testing. 

The Airport is working closely with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and abiding by the rules and procedures that have been set forth.

Further updates will be provided on this website. The MassDEP Fact Sheet is below as well as a regulatory timeline of ACK's actions.


Contact Information

Noah J. Karberg, A.A.E., ACE

Airport Manager

Nantucket Memorial Airport

14 Airport Rd.

Nantucket, MA 02554

Office: 508-325-7531

Regulatory Timeline of ACK's Response 

  • On 1/24/19 Mass DEP announced its intention to initiate the process to develop a drinking water standard for PFAS.

  • On 3/11/19 MassDEP delivered a Request for Information (RFI) to ACK.  The RFI is a formal document that required the airport’s response to inventory and historical usage of firefighting foam (known as AFFF).

  • On 4/2/20 ACK responded by submitting all requested information to MassDEP.

  • On 12/6/19 MassDEP delivered a Notice of Response Action (NORA) to ACK.  The NORA is a formal document that requires the Airport to sample wells downgradient from the release sites as listed in the RFI.

  • On 12/27/19 MassDEP officially modified the Massachusetts Contingency Plan (MCP) to include groundwater and soil cleanup standards for PFAS compounds, setting 20 parts per trillion (ppt) as the cleanup level for groundwater consumption

  • On 2/14/20 ACK sampled on-Airport monitoring wells and one downgradient drinking water well:  PFAS are detected above 20 ppt in groundwater and MassDEP is notified.

  • On 4/29/2020 ACK consultant submitted an Immediate Response Action (IRA) Plan to DEP.  The IRA is a regulatory document that describes the release history and identifies short-term actions; including sampling all homes along Madequecham Valley Road which are determined to be downgradient based on water levels measured in on-airport monitoring wells.

  • On 5/6/20 sampling began in private residences downgradient from ACK as  they are opened for the season.  Results are received during May and June, and sampling still continues.   Residences with an level of PFAS detection are provided with bottled water until the Point-of-Entry Treatment (POET) systems can be designed and installed.  Residences with highest concentrations (>200 ppt) are prioritized for POET system installation due to funding restrictions.

  • On 6/10/20 installation of POET systems began.

  • On 7/14/20 the Airport Commission approved a Task Order to authorize continued investigations, including further work south of airport and expanded sampling to the west. 

  • On 7/20/20 drinking water sampling began on the west side of the airport property.

  • On 7/29/20 ACK held a Public Information Session to update the public and address questions.

  • On 8/4/20 a modification to the 2020 IRA Plan was included in the IRA Status Report submitted to the MassDEP. 

  • On 8/4/20 ACK began testing drinking water wells with Nobadeer Way area.

  • On 9/8/20 the Airport Commission held a PFAS Investigation Status Report Public Meeting and approved a Task Order to authorize the design, permitting and bid documents of the town water service to residents with impacted domestic water.

  • On 9/11/20 ACK began soil testing on the airport at known AFFF release locations.   

  • On 11/10/20 Airport Commission adopted a Water Service Policy.

  • On 11/10/20 Airport Commission approved intra-municipal agreement for water service with Town and Wannacomet Water Co.

  • On 11/20/20 ACK held a Public Information Session to update the public and address questions.

  • On 8/11/21 ACK held a Public Information Meeting to update the public on the waterline construction project.

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