The Groundwater Professionals of North Carolina held its Spring Mini Conference on a beautiful spring day at the JC Raulston Arboreutum in Raleigh, NC. Divided into two themed sessions, the overarching topics focused on PFASs in Landfills in the morning, and Groundwater Resources Management in the afternoon.

GSI Environmental kicked things off with a deep dive into defining PFAS and other associated compounds, completing a PFAS literature and research review as part of the talk. PFAS are definitely under scrutiny and more research is needed to fully understand them, but these compounds are persistent, bioaccumulative, prevalent in humans and the environment with the potential for toxicity. They can move through soil and groundwater, and have been found to be present in leachate and condensate from landfills; one major concern is that unlined landfills can impact shallow groundwater meaning that PFAS compounds can travel.

Arcadis continued with a talk looking at more of the research surrounding PFASs and leaching.

Finally, a panel discussion reiterated some of the key points discussed and highlighted additional facts and present and emerging regulation. These artificially-produced compounds were discovered – almost by accident – in the 1940s. Unfortunately (or fortunately) they work well and also stick around for a long time – it is very hard to break the molecule chains apart making them an eternal compound.

Regulation is still evolving and expanding, and landfills owners need to be prepared, take advantage of funding to remediate unlined sites and for leachate pretreatment in advance of new guidelines.

Additionally, the FDA has started monitoring for PFASs in drinking water and food. There has been evidence that because we eat food that was packaged in materials including PFASs, the compounds are moving through wastewater systems.

Also, the EPA is looking at establishing effluent discharge and pretreatment standards. This process started in 2022, and currently work is ongoing to publish a plan for new and revised effluent limitation guidelines

The overarching goal is for effective removal of PFAS compounds.

After lunch, discussion shifted to land and water, highlighting aquifers and geophysics, and how geophysicists are conducting groundwater investigations in North Carolina. Stantech gave a presentation focusing on the design of groundwater treatment facilities for small community waterworks systems, and we heard about beach wells and the challenges that arise when digging and building those.

The Fall Mini Conference will take place in Charlotte and partially focus on brownfields sites and remediation/monitoring that needs to take place.