Fairchild finds contaminated groundwater near base

FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. – Fairchild base officials determine concentration of acids in drinking water near the base are above the Environmental Protection Agency’s lifetime Health Advisory levels.

Base officials sampled around 30 water wells located south and east of Fairchild AFB May 8th-10th to determine if the well water contained elevated levels of Perluorooctanesulfonic (PFOS) and Perfluorootanoic acids (PFOA).

The testing was conducted with well-owner permission after preliminary sampling results of 17 nearby wells revealed PFOS/PFOA concentration above the EPA lifetime HA levels late last month.

Base officials initially conducted off-base sampling of 23 private wells immediately adjacent to the eastern border of the installation in April after on-base testing near the fence line revealed concentrations above the EPA lifetime EA levels.

Affected residents have the option to immediately begin receiving bottled drinking water from the Air Force until a long-term solution is implemented to provide them with clean drinking water.

 “We care about the health and wellbeing of our families, neighbors and community partners and understand the concerns of everyone impacted, or potentially impacted, by this emerging issue,” said Col. Ryan Samuelson, 92nd Air Refueling Wing commander. “We will remain completely transparent as we work with the Air Force Civil Engineer Center and our regulatory partners to determine the extent of the issue and how to best provide clean water to those affected by any activities associated with past operations at the base. From the moment we learned of this issue our mandate at the base has been to update the community with the latest information we have, and we will continue to do so.”

The Air Force looks to the EPA for standards and guidance on environmental issues, and will continue to take proactive steps to protect communities from negative impacts from base operations.

Fairchild officials, along with local and regional regulatory partners, have scheduled a town hall meeting May 23 at 6:00 p.m. in the Medical Lake High School auditorium to allow community members to learn more about this topic. Subject-matter experts will be on hand to provide additional information and address questions and concerns.

PFOS/PFOAs are classified by the EPA as “emerging contaminants” and are present in common household items and heat and fire resistant products, including aqueous film forming foam formulations that were used by the Air Force in fire trucks from 1970-2016, including here at Fairchild AFB. The EPA issued updated PFOS/PFOA lifetime health advisory levels in May of 2016.

© 2017 KREM-TV


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