Issaquah, EFR, Ecology, finalize report on PFAS in the city

A report on chemical impacts to the Lower Issaquah Valley is being finalized by the city.

A report on chemical impacts to the Lower Issaquah Valley is being finalized for presentation to the city council next month.

The city of Issaquah, Eastside Fire and Rescue and the Department of Ecology have commissioned a study into the affects of per- and poly-fluoroalkyl (PFAS) substances in areas that have had firefighting training in the past. Results show the soil does not present direct contact risk, but the areas have been impacted by PFAS and concentrations still remain at the sites tested.

The study surrounds five areas where the foam substances have been used in firefighting training. Those locations include 175 Newport Way N.W., West Playfield at Issaquah Valley Elementary, Dodds Field Park, Memorial Field and Rainier Trail. Samples of soils and groundwater were taken for examination.

In 2016, the city shut down one of its small wells after PFAS were detected. Soon after the chemicals were detected, the city installed a filtration system to keep the water clean.

The substances are used on products like non-stick pans, carpeting and upholstery, Teflon and firefighting foams. The foam substance has been used in training exercises, but has not used by Eastside Fire and Rescue for years. In December of 2016, EFR Chief Jeff Clark told the Issaquah Reporter the department hasn’t used those foams since the mid-2000s.

According to Autumn Monahan, assistant to the city administrator, and Sheldon Lynne, public works director, the report is the result of Issaquah’s participation in the Environmental Protection Agency’s unregulated substances monitoring program.

While the city has addressed concerns around PFAS in the past, it is now looking into how PFAS get into water systems and the effects on groundwater and soil, Monahan said.

To continue studying PFAS and to design a pilot program around cleaning technologies, the city has requested $400,000 from the state Legislature.

The city, EFR and the Department of Ecology are analyzing the results and considering next steps. A full presentation of the data and final report will be presented to the Issaquah City Council at its June 24 work session.