The state is requiring West Tisbury to take action after PFAS chemicals were found in wells near the closed and capped town landfill. 

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection last week notified the town that it needed to come up with plan after five monitoring wells had detected levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances above the state standard. 

One of the wells is within 500 feet of a private well and the town needs to submit a plan to the state to sample and analyze private wells in the immediate proximity, as well as treat the water or provide bottled water, according to a May 14 letter to the town from DEP.

This marks the second time in two years that high concentrations of PFAS have been detected in West Tisbury. In January 2023, PFAS was found in wells around the town fire station

The previous finding prompted the town to sign a $170,000 contract with environmental consultant Wilcox and Barton to handle mitigation efforts. 

The town has already contacted the firm to move forward with the DEP’s new requests. 

“The state requires us to have a licensed professional and we have Wilcox and Barton on board,” town administrator Jen Rand told the Gazette. “This means that all the work they have to do once PFAS was discovered [near the fire station] and have been doing will now be done in this area of town.” 

An immediate response plan will have to be submitted to DEP by mid-July. 

Previous testing results from October 2023 concluded that PFAS were detected at amounts above the state standard in two homes around the landfill, but not surpassing the state’s imminent hazard concentration, DEP spokesperson Ed Coletta said in an email.

PFAS chemicals are found in everything from waterproof clothing to nonstick kitchenware and firefighting foams. The chemicals have been linked to negative health effects, including increased risk of certain cancers, changes in liver enzyme levels and increased risk of preeclampsia in pregnant women.

Funding for the remediation may fall short, spurring a possible special town meeting in the fall to ask for more money, Ms. Rand told the select board Wednesday. 

“We’re going to run out of money before we get to the next spring town meeting, I think,” Ms. Rand said. “I can’t guarantee it, but I think because we’ve been paying [Wilcox and Barton] through [American Rescue Plan] money and with the addition of a new site and additional workload, we may need a fall special for funding for this. We’ll see. We’re keeping track of this.”

Another concern brought up at the meeting was if PFAS is coming from the landfill or elsewhere. Ms. Rand said Wilcox and Barton is working on those findings.

“There are other contributors in the area and with the way the water flows, there are some real questions about whether we are the origin of the PFAS or whether it’s coming from another site,” Ms. Rand said.