Barnes airbase now eligible for PFAS restoration funds

WESTFIELD, Mass. (AP) — The Barnes Air National Guard Base in Westfield is now eligible for funding from the federal Defense Environmental Restoration Program to help mitigate the impact of contamination by so-called forever chemicals in the city.

Air Force Col. David Halasi-Kun announced Wednesday during the first public Restoration Advisory Board meeting that the board became eligible to apply for the funds earlier this month, Masslive.com reported.

Though the base is now eligible for the funds, how much it would get, and when, remains unclear.

Bill Myer, of the National Guard Bureau, said that the timeline will depend on how the PFAS contamination around Barnes compares to similar situations at other bases.

PFAS, an abbreviation for perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are known as forever chemicals because they do not break down in the environment. They have been linked to multiple health problems in humans.

Barnes, like many other bases, is believed to have contaminated the surrounding area with PFAS used in firefighting foam. Use of the foam has since been linked to the contamination of groundwater in the city’s North Side. Four public drinking water supply wells were found to contain elevated levels of PFAS.