In a rural New England community, groundwater contaminated with per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) was discovered in a community supply well located near a former industrial facility that historically handled PFAS-containing materials. PFAS contamination associated with this site was also found in soil, sediment, and surface water. The facility is now owned and operated by GZA’s client who uses the property for non-industrial purposes. GZA was asked to evaluate if the client contributed to the regional groundwater and water supply contamination, as claimed by the former industrial operator’s representatives, or if the impacts were more likely from historical industrial operations or other sources.
GZA developed and is implementing forensic studies on the property to identify and evaluate historic manufacturing materials used, stored, and processed on site, as well as the formation of waste materials associated with the former industrial processes. This technical information, coupled with anecdotal evidence from former employees, historical photos, and production records, is intended to yield a Conceptual Site Model that explains the source(s) and fate and transport of PFAS contamination produced on, and migrating from, the site. GZA’s analysis of air dispersion pathways is key to the forensic evaluation.
GZA’s strategic forensic approach – undertaking an historical analysis of former manufacturing processes to guide and understand the data – is integral to the client’s defense and could result in savings of tens of millions of dollars in liability for the historical PFAS contamination.