LUBBOCK COUNTY, TX (KCBD) - The Air Force announced Friday the discovery of potentially dangerous compounds at or above protective levels in private and public water wells around Reese Technology Center, the former Reese Air Force Base.
It's a different contamination from the 1993 discovery of trichloroethylene, or product used to wash engines, in public water systems.
"That ground water contamination has been completely cleaned up," Murvat Musa, executive director of Lubbock Reese Redevelopment Authority, said. "We've had more than three years of post remediation testing that's come back clean. As a matter of fact, I think the Air Force is currently in the process of closing out that permit with TCEQ. These contaminates that have been identified as coming from the fire fighting foam that the Air Force fire department was using at the time and have been using since the 1970s."
The Air Force began testing for the contaminates in November of 2017, first discovering them on the base, then moving to sampling a one mile radius around the property, Musa said. Perfluorinated compounds were found in 19 private drinking water wells and one public water well.
According to the Air Force, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) were at or above the EPA's lifetime health advisory of 70 parts per trillion for drinking water in 15 private wells. Also, perfluorohexanoic acid (PFHxA) and/or perfluorohexanesulfonic acid (PFHxS), and/or Perfluoropenatonoic Acid (PFPeA), which are also PFAS, were found in five additional wells in excess of the Texas Risk Reduction Program (TRRP) protective concentration levels (PCLs) but below the EPA's lifetime health advisory.
Musa told KCBD NewsChannel 11 that tenants at Reese are not affected by the contamination because it purchases water from the City of Lubbock and has its own treatment and distribution facility. The concern now is the neighboring residents on well water.
"Our first goal and the Air Force's first goal is the health and safety and well being of everyone on our property and everyone surrounding us, all of our neighbors," Musa said. "I think the Air Force position is they just want to get ahead of it and test it and see where it is and then make determinations of what next steps to take."
Residents discovered whose water was contaminated are receiving bottled water from the Air Force. Residents like Larry Landin are awaiting results.
"I gave them the 'OK' to come out here and test it and when he was out here they said they actually drained 150 gallons out to get the actual fresh water from the bottom," Landin said. "He said if it was contaminated they would redo the well, put some big filters on it and supply us with drinking water from then on."
Landin told KCBD he's concerned as his family has been using the water to drink and cook. According to EPA health advisories, exposure to PFOA and PFOS over certain levels can cause adverse health effects, including pregnancy issues or risk to newborns, cancer, liver effects, immune effects, thyroid effects and other effects.
"I wouldn't want anything bad to happen to my kids," Michael Lecroy said. "Say if my wife was trying to have a baby, certain things could be a problem."
KCBD spoke with the owner of Cagle Steaks who said his property has received water from the City of Lubbock for the past 22 years and will not be affected.
According to Musa, since the Air Force closed the base in 1997, it has assumed full responsibility for ground water remediation and environmental impacts.
"The Air Force is here," Musa said. "They have accepted responsibility contractually and otherwise. They are meeting those obligations. They are a great partner for us and I think they are trying to be a great partner for all the neighbors and do the right thing. They've been responsive and that's a great place to be."
The Air Force has received preliminary results from 77 of the 93 water wells tested. More results are expected in the next week. If you live in the one mile radius from the base and have not have your well sampled, contact Paul Carroll, at 806-885-5010 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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