Air Force moves forward to build treatment systems

  • Published
  • AFCEC Public Affairs
The Air Force has submitted remedial designs to the Environmental Protection Agency for two large-scale groundwater treatment systems to protect drinking water supply wells on and near the former Pease Air Force Base, New Hampshire, from exposure to perfluorooctanesulfonic and perfluorooctanoic acids, or PFOS and PFOA.


PFOS and PFOA are compounds commonly grouped with other synthetic fluorinated chemicals known as perfluourinated compounds, or PFCs. The Air Force Civil Engineer Center is working closely with the City of Portsmouth, EPA, state agencies, and the Pease Redevelopment authority to design and construct the systems. 


The remedial designs for the treatment systems for Site 8 and Pease airfield are in compliance with the EPA PFOS and PFOA Administrative Order and are major milestones in the Air Force response to the AO. Upon approval by EPA, both treatment systems will be constructed next year. 


“These large-scale treatment systems are the best solutions to interrupt the contamination moving towards the Haven well and impede movement of contamination from the former fire training area at Site 8,” said Peter Forbes, BRAC program manager for the former Pease AFB. 


The Site 8 treatment plant will protect groundwater resources in the Town of Newington and restore groundwater quality. The clean treated water will be reinjected back into the groundwater. 


Since the Air Force detected PFOS and PFOA in the New Haven drinking well in 2014, the Air Force has taken several steps to protect human health and drinking water supplies, including: 


-- Summer, 2014: further sampling of public and private wells identified one private residence well within levels above the EPA’s lifetime health advisory level with follow-on testing conducted at monitoring wells, surrounding community public wells, and 30 private wells.


-- 2015: Air Force committed to treat the Haven well, in accordance with an EPA administrative order under the Safe Drinking Water Act.


-- 2016: Air Force submits final remedial design for the Site 8 Groundwater Treatment System to EPA Region I.  The second treatment system at the Pease airfield to protect the Haven, and coincidently the Smith and Harrison, wells supplying drinking water to the Portsmouth area has reached 50% design approval.


To provide further information on the cleanup effort at the former Pease AFB, a restoration advisory board was re-established and has met twice. Additionally, a quarterly newsletter and a public webpage is in development to engage the Portsmouth community concerning PFOS and PFOA mitigation activities, health effect documents by the EPA and ATSDR and what action, if any, community members need to take. 


“The Air Force has maintained a productive and positive relationship with the State of New Hampshire and EPA for 25 years to effectively address cleanup actions at the former Pease AFB,” said Dr. Stephen TerMaath, AFCEC BRAC division chief.  While we are investigating the extent and potential migration of PFOS and PFOA near the Haven Well and across the base, we will install treatment systems necessary for the long-term protection of drinking water,” said Dr. TerMaath.


For more information on PFOS and PFOA or the Air Force emerging contaminants or environmental restoration programs, contact the Air Force Civil Engineer Center public affairs office at (866) 725-7617 or email