DEEP Investigates Illegal Use of PFAS in Burlington

The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) is investigating after Burlington firefighters allegedly used firefighting foam illegally to put out a car fire.

A DEEP spokesperson said fire officials responded to a fully engulfed car fire on Route 6 Wednesday night. Universal Gold AFFF foam, which contains the chemical PFAS, was used to put out the fire, they said.

No one was put in harm's way during the fire, according to DEEP.

The foam came from a tank on the firetruck. A minimum of one gallon and potentially as much as three gallons are believed to have been deployed while extinguishing the fire, DEEP said.

The type of foam used is no longer allowed in routine firefighting situations. This is because PFAS is a group of chemicals, per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances, that can be dangerous if it gets into rivers and groundwater.

Gov. Ned Lamont has signed a bill into law that prohibits the use of firefighting foam and food packaging that contain these substances.

DEEP said Environmental Services, Inc. was contracted to handle clean-up, which started Wednesday night and continued into Thursday.

The foam on the road traveled about 300 feet to a catch basin system that is believed to drain into the Farmington River. DEEP said the road and catch basins were rinsed and washed, and the foam was vacuumed up.

Clean-up continued into Thursday after foam was seen at the outfall drainage pipe to the Farmington River, DEEP said.

State and local health departments have been notified of the incident. Officials said it doesn't appear that any public or private drinking water supplies were close enough to be impacted by the amount of foam released.

Officials are figuring out when to dispose of the collected waste at a secure chemical disposal facility out of state.

DEEP said the state of Connecticut typically seeks to recover costs from those responsible for releasing chemicals. They said it's possible Burlington fire officials will be asked to pay these funds.

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