VERTEX conducted Phase I Environmental Site Assessments (ESA) and Phase II Limited Site Investigations (LSI) of former fire protection training facilities located outside of Reno, Nevada. The facilities operated from the 1970s through the 1990s utilizing mock facilities set afire using diesel fuel with gasoline as an igniter. The fires were extinguished with water and fire-fighting foam. The mock facilities were placed on concrete pads so water and fuel utilized could be captured and conveyed to lined and unlined retention ponds and reused. The facilities previously received regulatory closures from the Nevada Department of Environmental Protection (NDEP) in 2007 and 2009 for investigation and remediation of petroleum hydrocarbon related contaminants; however, the sites were not investigated for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) used in fire-fighting foam.
VERTEX conducted LSIs strategically designed to determine the presence or absence of PFAS in soil and groundwater in burn areas, lined and unlined ponds formerly located at the sites. At the time of the assessments, official screening levels did not exist for PFAS; however, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) had established a Lifetime Health Advisory (LHA) for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) in drinking water of 0.07 micrograms per liter (ug/L). The NDEP had developed Basic Comparison Levels (BCLs) for a specific facility in Henderson, Nevada for PFOS and PFOA in soil and groundwater. To meet the very low reporting limits and ubiquity of PFAS in everyday products, a rigid sampling protocol was followed to reduce the risk of introducing PFAS compounds to the samples. Soil analytical results indicated that PFOS and PFOA were not detected above the NDEP BCLs in the samples collected from the sites. Groundwater analytical results indicated that PFOS and PFOA were detected above the USEPA LHA and NDEP BCLs, particularly underlying former unlined ponds. The client, who intended to redevelop the sites as commercial/industrial warehouses, utilized the results of VERTEX’s LSIs to negotiate indemnification from the State of Nevada for the PFAS impacts at the sites.