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Army National Guard expands monitoring of 'forever chemicals' at Joint Base Cape Cod

A map of monitoring wells on the J-2 range of Camp Edwards.
Courtesy Impact Area Groundwater Study Program
A map of monitoring wells on the J-2 range of Camp Edwards.

The Massachusetts Army National Guard is expanding its monitoring of the so-called “forever chemicals” PFAS at Joint Base Cape Cod.

Recent groundwater tests showed PFAS exceeded state limits in two samples, out of 164, collected on the J-2 range located on the northern part of Camp Edwards.

Now, a series of new monitoring wells is being installed in the area.

Jodi Lyn Cutler is Remediation Manager at the Joint Base's Impact Area Groundwater Study Program.

She gave an update at last week's Joint Base Cape Cod Cleanup Team virtual meeting.

Cutler explained why the Army National Guard is spending $1.5 million on this protective measure.

"We found small amounts of PFAS in this area and it’s slightly upgradient of what we call WS-2. And that is the Upper Cape Regional Water Supply Well #2 ." 

That supply serves the Upper Cape towns of Falmouth, Bourne, Mashpee, and Sandwich, as well as the Joint Base and the Barnstable County Correctional Facility.

Cutler said the water supply well is not at risk from the PFAS that was detected on the J-2 range.

She said her team tested the water in that well and only found a small amount of what’s called a precursor – a compound that turns into PFAS over time.

"It is not a regulated compound. It’s such a low level. It’s a trace level."

The new monitoring wells are expected to be installed by the end of the month.

PFAS are referred to as forever chemicals because they don't break down over time. Increased exposure to PFAS has been linked with a heightened risk of some cancers.

Brian Engles is an author, a Cape Cod local, and a producer for Morning Edition.