Averting Ecological Tragedy After Human Tragedy of WW II Bomber Crash in Windsor Locks, Connecticut
Posted on October 5, 2019
By Jacqueline Bennett newsandviewsjb.com
A mystique surrounds World War II & the Greatest Generation which saved the world from tyranny. Nostalgia and fascination continue nearly 75 years later over the bravado of the dashing, young pilots who flew American fighter and bomber planes, and for the planes which helped the Allies win. Aviation enthusiasts and history buffs are eager to ride in the vintage planes that are still piloted around the country performing in air shows, and offer a chance to experience flight on the revered relics of a bygone era.
When news broke Wednesday morning October 2, 2019 about the crash of one such flight, a WW II B-17 G at Bradley International Airport (BIA) in Windsor Locks, Connecticut, it clearly hit residents across the state hard; a treasured piece of American history up in smoke – not invincible. Then the news got worse – the crash was deadly. The toll of lives lost in the crash now stands at seven plus several more injured, two victims had to be transported from Hartford Hospital to the Bridgeport burn unit.
Photo Jacqueline Bennett ~ shows the Farmington River as it flows through Windsor, CT.
With concern about the “human tragedy” of the B-17 crash uppermost in his mind, it became incumbent upon Windsor Mayor Donald Trinks to also consider an “ecological tragedy” that could be impending, he noted during an interview Thursday. Chemical contamination moving downstream as a result of the B-17 crash was on the mayor’s mind, after leakage this past summer of perfluonooctanic acid (PFAS) into the Farmington River – which flows through Windsor.
“First and foremost our concern is with the safety of everybody up there,” Mayor Trinks said during an interview along the banks of the Farmington River Thursday, Oct. 3.
Approximately 50,000 gallons of firefighting foam containing PFAS chemical – thought to cause health risks such as cancer – had leaked this past summer from a hangar at BIA into the Metropolitan District Water Pollution Control Facility located in Windsor. The contaminated water was then dumped into the Farmington River which flows through town. State and local officials including U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, State Attorney General William Tong, State Rep. Jane Garibay and Mayor Trinks, supported the formation of a state task force to investigate the health of the river, its fish and the safety of continued use of the firefighting foam.
In that the B-17 crashed into a de-icing building, in addition to PFAS, that meant there could also be drainage downstream into Windsor of a de-icing chemical, as well as, jet fuel. Crediting the quick response of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) and the Connecticut Airport Authority, Mayor Trinks said at this juncture, drainage appears to have been limited to the “northern most” part of Rainbow Brook. Skimming and booms have been used to facilitate containment. Most has been contained on-site at the airport, he said.
Photo from LOHud.com shows smoke billowing at the crash site.
The B-17 G bomber that crashed was owned by the Collings Foundation, a non-profit educational foundation. On its website the foundation has posted a message, “Our thoughts and prayers are with those who were on that flight and we will be forever grateful to the heroic efforts of the first responders at Bradley.”
During a news conference broadcast Thursday, Katie Dykes, state DEEP commissioner, said samples had been taken from eleven sites along the Farmington River. Results from the testing will be forthcoming, she said. Mayor Trinks adds that clean-up and monitoring are expected to continue.