A state Department of Environmental Protection investigation found the West Tisbury fire station to be a contributor of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) to the area’s groundwater supply, affecting nearby wells.

The discovery may put the town on the hook for the cleanup bill, potentially costing thousands of dollars.

“This is big deal,” said town administrator Jennifer Rand, after presenting a letter from MassDEP to the select board on Wednesday.

“I’m feeling slightly overwhelmed by the whole thing right this minute...we’re going to be committed to a fair amount of work.”

Ten wells near the fire station on Edgartown-West Tisbury Road have detected levels of PFAS, an array of chemicals that are linked to negative health effects. Tests of wells last year found one had 102 parts per trillion in the water, gaining it the designation of an “imminent hazard,” the highest level of concern.

Another well is also considered an imminent hazard and eight other wells had lower, but still reportable levels of the contaminants. The chemicals can be found in everything from waterproof clothing to nonstick kitchenware.

DEP determined that firefighting foams released at the fire department were the source of contamination. This type of foam was also a source of contamination at the Martha’s Vineyard Airport.

The DEP letter explained that because the contamination to West Tisbury wells came from town property, the town may be a legally liable party to the contamination. The town could be liable for up to three times the mitigation costs incurred by the state, as well as any damage to natural resources, according to DEP.

DEP has installed individual filtration systems at the two imminent hazard wells.

The state guidelines encourage the town to hire someone to oversee the response by Feb. 24, and to submit a plan of action by March 24.

In order to fulfill this obligation, Ms. Rand anticipates the town will have to dip into its reserve fund.

The news of this contamination follows the recent completion of remediation for the PFAS contamination at the airport, which was also caused by the deployment of firefighting foams. The installation of an aquifer filter ended up costing $272,500.