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Posted on: April 15, 2019

Update: PFAS Report Finalized

A report – commissioned by the City of Issaquah, Eastside Fire and Rescue and Washington State Department of Ecology – was recently finalized concerning PFAS (per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances) in the Lower Issaquah Valley.

The report (see the executive summary) assesses the potential impacts of PFAS to soil and groundwater following the historic use of specific firefighting foam used in training exercises. This type of foam is no longer used in Issaquah.

Background
Issaquah participates in Environmental Protection Agency's unregulated monitoring program by performing additional tests on our drinking water. During that testing, detections of PFAS were found in Well 4, the City’s smallest well. 

In the winter of 2016, the City stopped running Well 4 until the filtration system was installed and tested. Issaquah meets all standards set for safe drinking water.

Study’s Findings
The recent study in Issaquah focused on five areas in the valley that historically had fire training associated with firefighting foams:
  • 175 Newport Way N.W.
  • West Playfield at Issaquah Valley Elementary 
  • Issaquah Valley Elementary East Ballfields (Dodd Fields Park)
  • North of 190 East Sunset Way (Memorial Field)
  • West of 135 East Sunset Way on former rail grade (Rainier Trail)

The study consisted of drilling and sampling soils and groundwater in these areas, as well as collecting multiple surface soils, to test for PFAS – including PFOA and PFOS. 

PFAS are currently not regulated as hazardous substances under the State’s Model Toxic Control Act (MTCA). Instead, Ecology developed non-regulatory levels called “investigatory levels” for this study.

Generally, the study results showed:
  • The surface soils in all areas did not present a risk to people through direct contact.
  • Concentrations of PFAS were present in all five areas that exceed the “investigatory level” for protection of groundwater for unsaturated soil.
  • Concentrations of PFAS also exceeded “investigatory levels” for groundwater at multiple locations on the western portion of the Lower Issaquah Valley.

Next Steps
The City of Issaquah, Eastside Fire and Rescue and Ecology are now analyzing the results and considering next steps.

Meanwhile, the City has requested $400,000 from the state legislature to continue studying PFAS in the Issaquah Valley Aquifer, and design a pilot study for potential cleanup technologies.

The report will also be presented to the City Council during a June work session.
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