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Cannon to test for drinking water issues

Contaminants found in monitoring wells


Last updated 8/24/2018 at 6:47pm

Cannon Air Force Base officials are trying to assess the potential for drinking water contamination “stemming from past firefighting activities,” according to a Cannon news release.

The Environmental Protection Agency has issued a health advisory for levels of contaminants in drinking water found in monitoring wells in excess of 70 parts per trillion, the release said. Specific numbers have not been verified, Cannon spokesman J.P. Rebello said.

The monitoring wells are located in the southeast quadrant of Cannon AFB.

Rebello said the Air Force is conducting an expanded site inspection of the groundwater monitoring wells on base.

“The purpose of the expanded site inspection is to determine whether contamination exists off base,” Rebello said.

“Our drinking water on base is safe.”

Rebello also said, “there are no known contamination pathways to municipal drinking water sources.”

The contaminants are components found in Aqueous Film Forming Foam, used by emergency fire response teams — Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS).

“An expanded site investigation is being conducted to confirm the accuracy of the first tests and if any other areas have been impacted,” the release said. “The sampling will take place within land inside the vicinity of Highway 467, Roosevelt Road and Highway 6, encompassing a four-mile radius outside of the base boundary.”

The release said the expanded site inspection, which will begin on or about Monday, “will verify releases through groundwater, surface water, soil and sediment sampling.”

Results from sampling and testing should be known in about two months.

“The data and site information we gather during the investigation will help us identify if there is contamination in ground water sources,” said Lt. Col. Russell Gheesling, 27th Special Operations Wing Civil Engineer Squadron commander.

The release said Cannon officials will be holding a town hall meeting to answer questions about the issue.

That meeting has not been scheduled.

“We are committed to protecting the health of our Airmen and community partners and will conduct a thorough investigation to ensure we know if this contaminant has made it beyond the boundaries of Cannon Air Force Base,” Col. Stewart Hammons, 27th Special Operations Wing commander, said in the news release.

The EPA website reports “exposure to PFOA and PFOS over certain levels may result in adverse health effects, including developmental effects to fetuses during pregnancy or to breastfed infants ... cancer ... liver effects ... immune effects ... thyroid effects and (more).”

The Cannon release said the Air Force has replaced legacy firefighting foam at Cannon “with a new, more environmentally responsible formula that contains no PFOS and only trace amounts of PFOA.” Cannon completed the replacement last year.


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