Fairchild AFB officials testing 100 more wells for firefighting chemicals

Tubes dispense fire suppressant foam in the 414th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron hangar during the final test and certification of the new system that will protect the unit's aircraft and equipment from fire damage June 15, 2012, at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey.


By CHAD SOKOL | The Spokesman-Review, Spokane, Wash. | Published: August 8, 2017

SPOKANE, Wash. (Tribune News Service) — About 100 more wells near Fairchild Air Force Base will be tested for toxic firefighting chemicals, officials said Monday.

This fourth phase of testing follows the revelation late last month that levels of the perfluorinated chemicals known as PFOS and PFOA were found at concentrations nearly six times the level that federal regulators believe is safe.

The chemicals, which were key ingredients in a widely used firefighting foam, previously were detected in areas south and east of the base, near a training site where base firefighters practiced dousing aircraft fires. The chemicals seeped into the aquifer, poisoning dozens of private wells and the city of Airway Heights’ tap water.

In mid-July, Air Force officials sampled 50 wells in an area just north of Fairchild’s main gates along U.S. Highway 2, and in an area south of the base. Forty of those wells tested positive for the chemicals, with 21 exceeding the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s recommendation of 70 parts per trillion.

Now samples will be taken from two new areas. One will be north of the base, near Christensen Road. The other will be east of the base to the city of Airway Heights, spanning about 1 mile south and 2 miles north of the highway.

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