The Air Force last month confirmed that elevated levels of perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) found in the drinking water supply in several communities south of Colorado Springs most likely stems from the use of firefighting foam at Peterson Air Force Base.
The Air Force report shows that firefighters at the base used the chemicals during training since the 1970s, reported the Gazette. The firefighting foam was used most heavily from about 1970 through the early 1990s at two training areas, which have since been decommissioned.
State and local officials have been addressing the contamination affecting the cities of Security, Widefield and Fountain since January. “This is a complicated problem. It involves both public water systems and private well owners,” Warren Smith, spokesman for Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment, told Colorado Public Radio.
Fountain has removed all PFCs from its drinking water, but Security and Widefield still are trying to lower the concentration of the contaminants in their water supply. In July, the Air Force agreed to pay $4.3 million to filter well water in the three communities.
Across the country, the Air Force has spent $137 million since 2010 to study its past use of the firefighting foam. The service now is currently responding to elevated levels of PFCs at 12 current and closed installations including Peterson.
“It’s important for us to study the problem and see where they’re located so we spend the future dollars on the right places,” said Daniel Medina, a PFC subject matter specialist with the Air Force.
Medina said 1,800 areas across more than 190 installations require further investigation. DOD’s initial investigation into 664 sites across the nation that potentially have elevated levels of PFCs in their drinking water has been expanded to at least 2,000 sites.