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.


Commission Public Information Session

July 29, 2020 at 5pm

Watch the complete meeting that was live broadcast and recorded on YouTube

A Commission Public Information Session was held on Wednesday, July 29, 2020 at 5pm.  This meeting was hosted on Zoom Webinar and broadcast live and recorded on YouTube.    


You are welcome to download a copy of the meeting presentation by using the link below. 

Downloadable Copy of the Presentation

Notice of Public Information Session

Joint Public Service Announcement on the Use of PFAS at the Airport

This video is a joint statement issued by the Nantucket Select Board, Board of Health, and Airport Commission (July 19, 2020).

Contact Information

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

Assistant Airport Manager

Nantucket Memorial Airport

14 Airport Rd.

Nantucket, MA 02554

Office: 508-325-7531

Regulatory Timeline 

  • On 1/24/2019, Mass DEP announced its intention to initiate the process to develop a drinking water standard for PFAS.

  • On 3/11/2019, MassDEP delivers 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.

  • Airport responds with all requested information on 4/2/2019.

  • On 12/6/2019, MassDEP delivers 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 12/27/2019, MassDEP officially modifies the Massachusetts Contingency Plan (MCP) to include groundwater and soil cleanup standards for PFAS compounds, setting 20 ppt as the cleanup level for groundwater consumption

  • During Feb 2020, ACK samples on-Airport monitoring wells and one downgradient water supply well:  PFAS are detected above 20 ppt in groundwater and MassDEP is notified.

  • On 4/29/2020, ACK consultant submits 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 MVR which are determined to be downgradient based on water levels measured in on-airport monitoring wells.

  • Sampling begins in private residences downgradient from ACK on 5/6/2020 as homes are opened for the season.  Results are received during May and June, and sampling still continues.   Homes exceeding 20 ppt are provided with bottled water until POET systems can be designed and installed.  Homes with highest concentrations (>200 ppt) are prioritized for POET system installation due to funding restrictions.

  • Upon completion of sampling of all accessible downgradient homes along MVR at the end of June 2020, sampling plan is expanded out of an abundance of caution to include homes west of the airport (cross-gradient) to verify they are not impacted

  • On 7/14/2020, the Airport Commission deliberates and approves 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 commences on the west side of the airport property.

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

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

  • On 9/11/2020 A total of 8 soil samples are collected in the vicinity of Taxiway E.  Perfluorootanesulfonic Acid (PFOS) was detected in one sample above the MCP Soil Standard (GW-1/S-1). 


Nantucket Airport & PFAS
Information Portal on PFAS & Water Quality