2019 chemical disposal at airport still under investigation by GEPA

AFFF: Aqueous film-forming foam residue mixed with water is dumped into a storm drain in this photograph obtained by The Guam Daily Post. 

 The Guam Environmental Protection Agency investigation into the dumping of aqueous film-forming foam residue mixed with water into a drain at the A.B. Won Pat International Airport is ongoing, about two and a half years after the incident.
 
AFFF is a fire suppressant used in civilian airports that contain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, known as PFAS, the "forever chemicals" that are the subject of multidistrict lawsuits over environmental contamination. 
 
On Guam, these chemicals rose to prominence a few years ago, when it was learned that perfluorooctane sulfonate, or PFOS, a type of PFAS, was detected in some island water wells. 
 
In July 2019, photographs surfaced of airport firefighters disposing of an AFFF residue mixed with water into a drain. Video also surfaced of another incident involving a dry chemical spray being discharged into the jungle.
 
While a 2019 assessment by PCR Environmental Inc., the environmental consulting company hired by the airport, determined that the products were used appropriately, Guam EPA also launched an investigation into the matter. However, the agency stated in July 2021 that an official report is still pending. Now several months later, as of Wednesday, the incident is still under investigation. 
 
The Office of Public Accountability is now looking to audit Guam EPA's oversight of chemical disposal by government of Guam agencies and departments, as outlined in its 2022 annual work plan. Guam EPA stated it would cooperate with the OPA for the audit.
 
Public Auditor Benjamin Cruz said that since he assumed office, he has wanted to do a performance audit to determine Guam's compliance with the Sustainable Development Goals set forth by the United Nations.
 
Moreover, according to Cruz, the staff at the Office of Public Accountability has wanted to conduct audits of the Revolving Recycling Fund, the Invasive Species Fund and issues surrounding PFAS
 
Cruz said that when the OPA was deliberating its audit plan last month, he was heartened to find that the entire office "saw the importance of this issue and supported the idea of doing a performance audit of chemical disposal and its implications on our water lens and water supply."
 
 
"This last year, we were heartened to see that the administration and the Legislature has indicated some interest and support of the SDGs. The recent news stories about the water problems in Hawaii have made us all more cognizant of the importance of our water lens and the need to protect it against any type of pollution," Cruz said, referring to the contamination of drinking water at a military base in Honolulu due to a fuel leak late last year. 
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