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  • WKBN

    Fire departments unload unsafe foam at collection site

    By Dave Sess,

    28 days ago

    LISBON, Ohio (WKBN) – Sometimes water is not the best choice to fight a fire. Foam is a better selection in specific situations.

    A foam that was used in Ohio until two years ago is now being collected to reduce its danger. Ohio fire departments are giving up dangerous foam, called AFFF. The state is collecting it at the Columbiana County Fairgrounds and taking it to be destroyed. The East Palestine Fire Department dropped off five containers.

    “I’m happy to get rid of it. It’s been stuck in the corner at the firehouse. We’re trying to avoid it now that we’re able to drop it off and get rid of it. It’s a big relief,” said East Palestine Fire Chief Keith Drabick,

    Forty departments across northeast Ohio dropped off 3,000 gallons. The foam is obsolete because, over the long term, it could cause health effects from exposure or affect the water supply. AFFF foam has dangerous chemicals or PFAS.

    We know that there are potential health implications of too much PFAS in the drinking water. So, anything we can do to keep it from breaching drinking water is what we’ll do with the Ohio EPA,” said Anne Vogel, director of Ohio EPA.

    The state started a program in March to collect the foam, and there’s an Ohio company that will destroy it. The technology leaves no harmful byproducts or contamination.

    “It’s helping the environment, number one. We know that this foam can’t be used again. And number two, it’s helping the health and safety of firefighters,” said Ohio State Fire Marshal Kevin Reardon

    Columbiana County is the third collection spot across Ohio. Of the state’s 1,178 departments, 380 have signed up to return 75,000 gallons of foam. The fire departments have replaced it with other less potentially problematic materials.

    “There are substitutes that don’t have the harmful substances in the foam that the PFAS-based foam did,” Reardon said.

    Drabick said his department has to buy some different, safe foam.

    “And that’s a cost, but it’s a cost that we have to incur in order to provide the protection that we need,” he said.

    The foam is not put in landfills, burned or put in an injection well. The foam is taken to Hilliard, where a company has patented technology to destroy it safely and cleanly.

    Copyright 2024 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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