Air Force to sample local wells for contaminants near Scott AFB

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE – The Air Force Civil Engineer Center and Scott Air Force Base are working together to sample identified wells that are used for a water source within one mile southeast of the base for potential contamination from past fire-fighting activities on the installation.

In a statement released Tuesday amid concerns expressed in recent days about water quality in and around the base, the Air Force said it is currently conducting a well survey in cooperation with local regulators and will contact well owners in the sample area, with the goal of starting sampling in May.

Water provided by American Water to Scott AFB and the surrounding communities is not affected and remains safe to drink.

The well sampling is part of what the Air Force calls its “proactive, service-wide investigation to assess potential risks to drinking water” from Perfluorooctanoic Acid, PFOA, and Perfluorooctane Sulfonate, PFOS.

The compounds are components of foam used by firefighters at commercial airports, Air Force installations and other services to combat petroleum-based fires, also known as Aqueous Film Forming Foam, or AFFF.

It was in 2016 that the Environmental Protection Agency issued a Lifetime Health Advisory for PFOS and PFOA in drinking water in 2016. The Air Force has since replaced legacy firefighting foam in Scott AFB emergency response vehicles with a new, more environmentally responsible formula that is still effective, and has a greatly reduced environmental footprint.  Additionally, the Air Force changed its emergency training and response procedures to reduce the risk of contamination from mission activities.

As part of the Air Force’s three-step approach — identify, respond, protect — AFCEC completed a preliminary assessment at Scott AFB in July 2016 that identified areas on base for potentially elevated PFOS/PFOA levels at Scott.

As another proactive measure to ensure drinking water sources are protected, the Air Force will sample selected off-base wells, and again, communities supplied by American Water are not affected.

If the Air Force determines the tested water sources contain PFOS/PFOA at levels above the EPA lifetime health advisory level, it will take immediate measures.  If the wells are drinking water sources, the Air Force will provide bottled water or other alternative sources.  It will work with well owners and regulators to determine a permanent solution.

“We are committed to being 100 percent transparent with our community partners as we move forward with this testing,” said Col. Joseph Meyer, 375th Air Mobility Wing vice commander. “If we know something, we will say something. We owe it to our neighbors and surrounding communities to be open to discussion based on the facts at hand.”

For additional details about the progress at Scott AFB, more information will be posted on www.scott.af.mil.

For more information on the Air Force response or additional information on the Air Force’s response to PFOS and PFOA please visit http://www.afcec.af.mil/WhatWeDo/Environment/Perfluorinated-Compounds/.

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