DEP’s ongoing efforts to delineate the PFAS contaminant plume and mitigate the impacts to local residences continued in March 2023. During the past month, DEP’s contractor HDR installed soil borings at several businesses along High Tech Road, collecting soil from two separate depths within each of the 11 borings. The soil samples were sent to Eurofins Laboratory for analysis and the results will be shared upon receipt of the report. Additional soil testing is planned upon completion of access agreements with property owners.
In response to PA’s new MCLs, promulgated in January 2023, of 14 ppt for PFOA and 18 ppt for PFOS, fourteen additional homes have been identified as needing mitigation and were evaluated for POET system installation in March. Those installations are being scheduled from late March through April 2023. Upon completion of the installations, samples will be collected to ensure the POETs are working to effectively remove the PFAS compounds. Those sample results will be shared with the individual homeowners upon receipt.
DEP’s sampling or resampling of home supply wells that have not exceeded the current MCL continues as well, with seven residences being sampled in March. These sample results will be shared with the individual homeowners upon receipt.
EPA proposed a new federal MCL for six PFAS compounds in March, including PFOA and PFOS. DEP’s investigation, sampling and mitigation plans will take the anticipated standards into account when evaluating homes for impacts and potential mitigation. If the proposed standard is promulgated it would become DEP’s cleanup standard.
Residential water supply treatment – The same contractor, EcoWater was awarded the contract for the second round of POET (Point of Entry Treatment) system installations. Scheduling is being worked out with the homeowners for the initial home water system assessments. Installation will be scheduled as soon as possible following these inspections. Post-treatment sampling will then be conducted to confirm the systems are working effectively. Once all planned POETs are installed, DEP will begin routine monitoring of the systems to ensure they continue to effectively remove the PFAS contamination.
Sampling – 7 potable well samples have been collected in February 2023. Sampling of treatment systems and residential wells will continue.
Soil Sampling – the drilling contractor is being scheduled for work along High Tech Road in early March. Access agreements for additional samples in front of the airport terminal and several areas south of the airport are currently being worked out with property owners.
Water Line Feasibility Study – a meeting was held on February 8 with representatives from Benner Township Water Authority, State College Borough Water Authority, College Township Water Authority, Benner Township Supervisors, DEP and DEP’s contractor HDR to discuss the water line feasibility study and conduct a site walk to inspect key features to be included in the study. Following the meeting, the information requested from the various entities has been provided and the draft study report is anticipated to be submitted for DEP review by early summer 2023. Once finalized the report will be shared with the public and posted on our website.
A draft fracture trace analysis was presented to PA DEP by HDR for evaluation regarding future monitoring well installation locations.
December 2022 - January 2023
Since December 1, 2022, DEP has collected water supply samples from 5 homes that have had a POET system installed by DEP. Analytical results were received and shared with the homeowners. Of those sampled, all 5 were non-detect (ND) for all PFAS analytes in post-treatment samples. Samples collected post-treatment confirm the POET systems are working effectively to remove the PFAS contamination from the water supply wells. DEP and our contractor continue to respond to any issues or additional plumbing needs on an individual home-by-home basis. Post-treatment sampling will be ongoing on a semi-annual basis to determine the maintenance needs for the POETs.
With the publication of the revised MCLs on January 14, 2023, these levels have been adopted as drinking water and cleanup standards for PA. DEP’s contractor is working through the procurement process to have POET systems installed in 15 additional homes that now qualify for them under the new MCLs. These homes have all been offered bottled water as a temporary drinking water source until POET installation is completed, and testing has confirmed the systems are working as designed.
DEP’s contractor’s detailed work plan has been approved for additional soil sampling in locations where PFAS was suspected to have been used in historic operations. A geophysical survey and fracture trace analysis is also planned to determine the best locations for groundwater monitoring wells in our efforts to further delineate the PFAS contaminant plume. DEP will be securing additional property access agreements for any additional sampling needs.
DEP’s contractor has begun working with the local water authorities (Benner Township Water Authority, Spring Benner Walker Joint Authority, College Township Water Authority and State College Borough Water Authority) to gather information needed to complete an engineering feasibility study to determine any special needs related to long-term maintenance as well as the best route for a public water line servicing Walnut Grove Estates and the surrounding community. In mid-November DEP had met with representatives of some of the local authorities, along with the Benner Township supervisors, to discuss the various aspects of the feasibility study and provide updated information on potential pathways and funding.
DEP to date has received responses from all but one entity in regard to our request for information on potential use of PFAS-containing compounds at seven properties. Following review of all documents, DEP anticipates moving forward with discussing responsibility for remediation actions in 2023.
In late November 2022, DEP’s HSCA program began implementing the proposed MCLs of 14 ppt for PFOA and 18 ppt for PFOS as cleanup standards for HSCA-funded remedial actions. This decision was based in part on approval from both the Environmental Quality Board and the Independent Regulatory Review Commission of the proposed MCLs to advance to the next step in the regulatory process expected to result in promulgation of these standards by early 2023. In accordance with HSCA’s decision to move forward with implementing the proposed MCLs, DEP reached out to homeowners in our investigation area whose water supply wells tested above these levels but below the previous standard of 70 ppt to provide bottled drinking water and begin the process of arranging installation of water treatment (POET) systems in their homes. In November, 14 additional residences were added to the list of those receiving bottled drinking water. Eleven additional homes are being offered POET systems. Several homeowners had treatment systems installed on their own prior to DEP’s recent decision.
DEP’s installation of POET systems continued into November with a total of 11 residences whose water supply was over 70 ppt now having treatment systems installed. Post-installation sampling has been conducted or is being scheduled for each home with treatment, whether provided by DEP or the individual homeowner. Homeowner-installed POET systems will be upgraded as needed to meet the required specifications to ensure efficient removal of the contaminants. Installation of the POET systems at the homes exceeding the proposed MCLs will commence as soon as arrangements can be made with the vendor. Following installation and testing of the POET systems, bottled water deliveries will be stopped for those homes.
In October 2022, DEP continued collecting samples from private water supply wells and surface waters. Samples were collected from 12 private water supplies, 2 spring houses, and 1 surface water point near the outfall of Benner Spring. POET system installation is now underway for those homes where the supply well tested at or above the PA standard of 70 parts per trillion. A total of 8 POET systems have been installed by DEP’s subcontractor, with an additional 3 scheduled for November 2022. Sampling of these systems to ensure they are effectively removing the PFOA and PFOS is in the process of being scheduled. The results from surface soil samples collected from the University Park Airport property in August were received. All samples were below the soil standards. The results will be uploaded to the project website.
Our contractor, HDR, has finalized the Work Plan for installation of additional soil borings and groundwater monitoring wells in the investigation area. A geophysical survey will be conducted to aid HDR and DEP in determining strategic locations for these sample locations. Upon review and approval of the Work Plan, it will be uploaded to the project website. Along with this update we are attaching a list of Commonly Asked Questions that DEP has received from concerned residents. This will also be uploaded onto our project website.
In September 2022, DEP collected a total of 33 samples from private water supply wells. We have received results from 12 samples and 1 private water supply is above the Act 2 MSC of 70 ppt for PFOS and PFOA combined. Confirmatory samples were collected at a property with conflicting results, and those sample have verified that the supply well contains PFOA and PFOS above the MSC. This residence has been supplied with bottled water. We are awaiting analytical reports for the remaining samples.
The Comment and Response document and Statement of Decision for the Prompt-Interim Response have been drafted and upon final approval will be sent to those individuals who submitted written comments or gave oral comments at the public hearing on June 28, 2022. Both documents will also be uploaded to our Administrative Record on the project website at:
Benner Township HSCA Investigation.
The results from surface soil samples collected from the University Park Airport property in August are currently pending. Upon receipt and review, the results will be uploaded to the project website.
A subcontract vendor has been approved for design and installation of Point of Entry Treatment systems (POETs) in homes with water supply wells that currently exceed the Act 2 MSC for PFOA and PFOS. Scheduling of home visits to determine if any special requirements are needed will be occurring the first and second week of October 2022. Post-installation testing will be conducted to ensure the systems are effectively removing the PFAS contamination from the supply well. If any property owner whose well exceeds the Act 2 MSC had a POET system installed on their own, DEP will conduct sampling of the treated water in those homes as well, upon request from the home owner.
Our contractor, HDR, is finalizing the Work Plan for installation of additional soil borings and groundwater monitoring wells in the investigation area. A geophysical survey will be conducted to aid HDR and DEP in determining strategic locations for these sample locations. Upon completion and approval of the Work Plan, it will be uploaded to the project website.
DEP received two requests for deadline extensions to respond to our June letters requesting information related to the use, storage and potential release of PFAS at properties where PFAS-containing compounds may have been used currently or historically. Once all responses have been received, DEP will have additional information and documentation on hand of known practices at various industries in the investigation area.
Since our July 29, 2022 update, DEP has continued our Benner Township PFAS Investigation by conducting a number of activities. The public comment period for the Prompt Interim Response closed on August 26, 2022. All written and oral comments received are being addressed and compiled into a Comment and Response Document that, upon completion, will be added to our Administrative Record on the project website and sent directly to the commenters. Our goal is to have a finalized version of this document ready to share by September 30, 2022. We would anticipate making a final decision on the prompt interim response soon thereafter.
DEP has received the results of the ten private water supply well samples collected in late July along with the two samples collected on August 5. Two additional residential well samples were found to have PFOA and PFOS combined above the current Act 2 MSC of 70 parts per trillion, which is the current standard being used in PA. Arrangements for bottled water have been made for these two homes. In total, twelve (12) homes are now being supplied with bottled water.
Our contractor, HDR, has received two complete bids from vendors who are able to install Point of Entry Treatment Systems in the impacted homes and has identified their recommended vendor. Once that bidder passes the Commonwealth’s subcontractor approval process, the homeowners will be contacted to make arrangements for a home visit to determine the specific system requirements for each home so that the systems can be ordered and subsequently installed. The preferred system design, once selected, will also be shared on the
In late August, DEP along with our contractor HDR, and the University and their consultant conducted surface soil sampling at 18 locations in various drainage areas and retention ponds on airport property and the surrounding area, including areas adjacent to the PA Air National Guard facility. The samples were sent to PACE Labs for analysis. Once results are received, they will be added to the Administrative Record on the project website.
DEP has received a series of Fact Sheets that we feel will benefit the residents from a representative of the Department of Health in Harrisburg. The documents are being shared on our project website as well as attached to this update. Other documents received this month were the University Park Soil Sampling Report dated July 2022 and the HDR Soil and Potable Water Report dated August 2022. These documents will also be uploaded to the Administrative Record on the project website.
DEP has received the bottleware to collect 50 additional water samples and will be reaching out to residents to make arrangements to begin confirmation sampling of previous events and to sample several properties outside of Walnut Grove Estates whose owners have reached out with concerns. This sampling is anticipated to start the week of September 5, 2022. A request for additional samples is being submitted to continue with this work. We are also working with our contractor, HDR, on a finalized Work Plan to conduct soil boring and groundwater monitoring well installations in strategic locations within the investigation area. Geophysical survey work and fracture trace analysis will be used in conjunction with existing sample results to help determine the best locations for the monitoring wells. The contract Change Orders containing these Work Plans will be uploaded to the project website upon approval.
In June we sent out HSCA 503 letters to area facilities that may have used PFAS compounds requesting any records they may have about PFAS use at the facilities. We have received some of the responses back and our reviewing them and anticipate receiving the rest back by the end of September. Once all of the responses are received and reviewed, they may be added to the project website.
August 16, 2022
Public Hearing Transcript (June 28, 2022) (PDF)
August 1, 2022
Since the public hearing to receive oral comments from the residents held on June 28, 2022, DEP has received a number of written comments. At the close of the public comment period on August 26, 2022, all oral and written comments will be compiled into a comment and response document that will be sent to the commentors and made available to the public. The exact timing of the release of the response document will be impacted by the number of comments and the complexity of the responses required. The current target is to have it finalized by the end of September 2022.
In July, DEP and the Benner Township Water Authority began a discussion of what would be needed to extend a public water line to the Walnut Grove Estates development should that be DEP’s final response. Their engineer will be putting together a document that we anticipate will assist with determining the needs, any potential issues or concerns, and which entities will need to coordinate efforts. We are not certain when this engineer’s report will be completed.
DEP’s contractor is working through the bidding process for vendors to install the Point of Entry Treatment systems in the homes where property owners are currently being supplied with bottled water. Once the vendors have responded with their bids, one will be selected for approval to begin installation at the earliest opportunity.
Residential sampling was delayed for a number of weeks due to issues related to both availability and approval of a laboratory subcontractor to analyze the samples. These issues have now been resolved and a round of samples were collected by DEP staff on July 27-28, 2022. Once DEP receives the next available dates from the laboratory, additional property owners will be contacted to schedule the next residential samples. The current list of residences to be sampled is being prioritized based on several factors, including whether properties have yet to be sampled, properties where a confirmation sample was needed, and properties that were sampled but due to a laboratory issue have to be resampled. Upon receipt of the laboratory reports, each property owner will be contacted with the results and provided with a copy for their records, as we have been doing throughout this project. The project map appearing on DEP’s project website will also be updated as sample results are received.
DEP’s contractor, HDR, had submitted a contract Change Order with work plan and cost estimates for the surface soil sampling in various drainage areas on and around the University Park Airport property and additional potable water samples. The Change Order was approved on July 28, 2022, and sampling of the soils will commence as soon as scheduling and access can be coordinated. Many of the soil samples will be collected within the active operations area of the airport and require FAA security clearances, training, and escort. Those samples outside of the active operations area will be collected at the same time. This is the next step in the overall environmental investigation being conducted by DEP around the University Park Airport and the High Tech Road area.
June 28, 2022
On June 28, 2022 PA DEP NCRO held our required public hearing for the Benner Township PFAS HSCA Investigation. This hearing was to receive oral comments related to DEP’s “Prompt Interim Response” to residential homes containing PFOA and PFOS above the 70 parts per trillion MSC based on the EPA HAL. Our prompt interim response includes the provision of bottled drinking water and the installation of Point of Entry Treatment systems in each impacted home. Approximately 75-80 people attended the hearing. DEP started with introductions and a brief PowerPoint presentation giving some background information and a few updates for those who may be new to the issue. That presentation will be added to our project web page.
Oral comments were provided by six individuals, and once the transcript is received, it will be shared on the web page. DEP NCRO will compile and respond to all oral comments received at the hearing along with any written comments received during the public comment period ending August 26, 2022. Many of the concerns presented at the hearing are questions we are hearing frequently, including questions related to the June 15 EPA announcement of an interim HAL levels. We plan to include a frequently asked question section on our webpage to address these questions prior to the conclusion of the comment period.
In late May and early June, letters were sent to residents with water supply wells testing above the 70 ppt offering them Point of Entry Treatment systems and requesting access for installation. As these are received, DEP will share them with our contractor so they can conduct site surveys for specific needs in each home and designing the systems for installation at the earliest opportunity. DEP is working on determining how the EPA interim HALs announced on June 15 will impact our investigation.
DEP and our contractor are also working with the University Park Airport to complete requirements for FAA to allow access to the airport property for collection of surface soil samples in various drainage areas that may contain PFOA and PFOS related to historic mandatory AFFF fire-foam testing. Once these arrangements have been completed, the surface soil sampling will take place. Plans for subsurface soil sampling in the vicinity of High Tech Road and Rock Road will then follow. In addition to the soil sampling, additional lab sampling supplies are being requested for resampling of homes that were sampled in April and May 2022, but for which the results have been significantly delayed due to staffing constraints at the BOL. Once the lab supplies are received, DEP will be conducting the resampling, as well as adding homes that had not previously been sampled in an effort to further delineate the impacted area.
The next step following soil sampling will be to conduct geophysical testing in areas we would like to site groundwater monitoring wells to determine the best location for these wells. Installation of the groundwater monitoring wells will provide further data for determining the extent of the impacted groundwater plume.
May 31, 2022
On Thursday, May 26, 2022, six additional private water supply samples were collected. These included some confirmatory samples as well as new properties.
Sample results from the April 19-20, 2022 sampling have not yet been reported by the Bureau of Laboratories. DEP anticipates receiving these by June 14 if within the 6-8 week window stated by our laboratory. Letters were sent to the 10 residents whose water supply wells tested at or above the 70 parts per trillion Health Advisory Level, and who did not have pre-existing whole-home treatment systems, providing them with the option to have a Point-of-Entry-Treatment system installed at DEP’s expense. We requested a response by June 15, 2022 in order to provide a list of properties to our contractor at the earliest opportunity, as they will have to visit each home to inspect the plumbing and availability of space for the system components.
DEP understands that several residents have expressed concern about the treatment system options and any requirements that may be attached. To address these concerns, DEP sent an e-mail to those who received the letters to provide additional information that may better explain our response and subsequent requirement to record an Environmental Covenant notice on their deed describing the contamination present and the mitigation provided by the treatment system. This is a requirement of the Hazardous Sites Cleanup Program, which is the source of funding for the investigation and our response.
DEP’s contractor has submitted two contract Change Orders, along with work plans. One is for installation of the treatment systems in the 10 homes (plus a few extra in case any additional need arises) and the second is for collection of surface soil samples in the detention ponds and discharge points related to airport operations. DEP became aware of specific FAA requirements for security checks, training, and access to areas in an active airport setting and are working with PSU Airport Operations to complete these requirements.
Additionally, DEP is awaiting a third Change Order and work plan for installation of additional subsurface/surface soil borings as well as groundwater monitoring wells at locations both north and south of the airport property. We are in the process of drafting agreements for access to any properties where they may be located. Field analyses such as geophysical testing may be required prior to the final locations being set for the monitoring wells.
We anticipate a Summary Report from our contractor by the end of June, to be added to the Administrative Record files, that will compile all sample results and activities conducted to date.
The public hearing for the interim mitigation measures (the supply of bottled water and installation of treatment systems) is scheduled for June 28 at the Benner Township municipal building. As a reminder for all, although DEP will present a very brief recap of the work to date as part of the introduction, this is a public hearing to take testimony on the mitigation measures and not a public meeting to discuss the project in general or answer questions from the public.
Finally, DEP is including an updated map of samples collected to date for inclusion in the Administrative Record and website.
May 12, 2022
The Administrative Record is open for public comment between May 28, 2022 and August 26, 2022.
Administrative Record (PDF)
- Hard copies of the Administrative Record are available for public review at the Benner Township municipal building.
April 29, 2022
In continuation of DEP’s HSCA investigation into the PFAS groundwater plume in Benner Township, regional HSCA staff collected 10 private water supply samples during the week of April 18, 2022 for a total of 65 private supply well samples collected to date. For those homes with combined PFOA and PFOS concentrations at or greater than the EPA HAL of 70 ppt (parts per trillion), bottled water delivery has been arranged as an immediate, short-term alternate drinking water source. DEP intends to follow up the provision of bottled water with the installation of whole home treatment systems for those residents with water supply wells containing concentrations at or greater than 70 ppt who do not have an existing treatment system that is effectively reducing levels to below the EPA HAL.
Because DEP has initiated what is referred to as a “Prompt Interim Response” with the bottled water delivery, our response activities will be open for a 90-day public comment period, during which a public hearing will be held for residents to present oral comments. Any comments should be focused on the actions under the Prompt Interim Response and not on other actions the DEP is conducting. All comments, written and oral, will be included in a Public Comment and Response document following the public comment period that will be made available on DEP’s project website as well as sent to any commentors who have provided contact information.
In conjunction with the public comment period notification, an Administrative Record containing documentation of DEP’s response decision and alternatives considered will be made available for public viewing at both DEP’s project website, and at the Benner Township Municipal Building.
Tuesday, June 28, 2022
Benner Township Municipal Building
Public Comment Period: May 28, 2022 – August 26, 2022
Written responses to all comments will be compiled and made available to the public following the end of the public comment period.
Notification for the public comment period and hearing will appear in the
PA Bulletin, the Centre Daily Times, and the DEP project website
April 15, 2022
The sample results from DEP’s March 22-24, 2022 sampling event have been received and the results provided to the individual property owners. Of the 34 samples collected in this round of sampling, 9 were found to contain PFAS (PFOA and PFOS) above the 70 parts per trillion (ppt also often reported in nanograms/liter or ng/l) Act 2 cleanup standard or HAL. In total 10 residential wells have exceeded the standard out of the 44 residential wells that DEP has sampled. All of the occupied homes without an effective drinking water treatment system are being provided with bottled water for potable use until treatment or an alternate water supply can be arranged. About twelve additional water samples, including both new locations and confirmation samples where the results showed a detection of PFAS below 70 ppt, are being collected the week of April 18, 2022. Should a residential well exceed the standard in the April 18 round of sampling they will also be provided bottled water. If the cleanup standards should change, as is proposed, the results will be re-examined and the residences above the proposed standard supplied with treatment or an alternative water supply. Determining the potential health risk related to drinking water in the investigation area continues to be our first priority.
Results from 26 soil samples collected on February 22-23, 2022 have been received and compiled. Initial evaluation indicates that, where detected, PFAS compounds tend to be higher in the shallow soil and are lower with increased depth. As DEP completes the residential drinking water sampling phase, further sampling of soil in various locations will be completed along with looking at potential surface water impacts. DEP’s contractor will compile all the information collected into a summary report once this phase of the investigation is completed. The summary report will be shared with the public on this website once it is finalized.
DEP has been in contact with the townships of Benner, College and Patton to keep them apprised of our investigation status and our investigation results and will continue to do so. Several updates have also been provided to local representatives and updates have been added to this website. We will continue to provide updates as information and sample data is received and the investigation progresses.
April 1, 2022
In late February and March 2022, DEP NCRO’s HSCA program staff conducted sampling at 42 private water supply locations. Results from sampling on February 23-24 were relayed to the property owners, and while PFAS compounds were detected in several samples, all were below current standards. Results from sampling on March 22-24 are expected in mid-to-late April and will be relayed to the property owners upon receipt. DEP’s HSCA contractor installed 13 soil borings in locations around the University Park Airport and High Tech Road properties on February 23-24. Results are in the process of being compiled and evaluated at this time. DEP reached out to additional property owners with no response; we will continue to try to contact these residents in order to collect samples of their supply wells, if they are interested. We are also evaluating additional spring and/or surface water and groundwater sampling locations that may be sampled in subsequent sampling rounds.