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News | Jan. 31, 2024

Wisconsin Guard fighter wing installs permanent PFAS monitoring wells

By Isabella Jansen 115th Fighter Wing

Last month, the 115th Fighter Wing installed 18 permanent monitoring wells as part of mobilization II, the second step in the remedial investigation of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) at Truax Field.

The wells are part of 55 proposed permanent monitoring wells installed with a sonic drilling rig, allowing for environmental sampling to depths in excess of 400 feet. They will supplement the 26 wells installed during mobilization I to further define and monitor contaminant sites in and around Truax Field.

Mobilization II well installations are scheduled to be completed by April 2024.

The remedial investigation is the third step of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) process, which provides detailed geologic and lithologic data to identify likely sources of PFAS, migration pathways and receptors.

“We’re working toward mitigation, but we must first delineate the pathways for contaminant migration,” said Justin Pope, 115th Fighter Wing state environmental specialist. “The data collected from the remedial investigation will help in making informed, fact-based decisions with taxpayer money.”

All of the data collected from the remedial investigation will be used to support the next step of the CERCLA process to evaluate potential remedies, determine appropriate requirements and cleanup objectives.

“The remedial investigation is one part of the multi-step CERCLA process, but it’s also just one part of what we’re doing to manage this entire issue,” Pope said. “We’ve done a lot of things proactively so that PFAS isn’t a problem in the future.”

In March 2023, the 115th Fighter Wing became the first U.S. Air Force base worldwide to terminate all use of foam-based fire suppression systems in its facilities. Additionally, the wing now tests mobile firefighting nozzles in a closed-loop system, eliminating the environmental release of firefighting foam for test purposes.

“As we work with our state and local partners to continue through the CERCLA process, we reaffirm our commitment to protecting the environment and resources in and around Truax Field,” said Col. Bart Van Roo, the 115th Fighter Wing commander.