U.S. Air Force expands testing as more contaminated wells found around former Reese Air Force Base

U.S. Air Force expands testing as more contaminated wells found around former Reese Air Force Base
Residents attend meeting on U.S. Air Force response to compound finding at Reese AFB. (Source: KCBD)

LUBBOCK COUNTY, TX (KCBD) - Since announcing the discovery of potentially dangerous compounds in water wells around the former Reese Air Force Base in January, the U.S. Air Force says the number of contaminated wells has doubled as more testing has been done.

"Since November we have sampled about 150 drinking water wells in the area," Paul Carroll, Environmental Coordinator for Reese AFB, said. "Of those 150 wells, there about 42 right now over levels EPA would consider safe or Texas Commission on Environmental Quality would consider safe."

The Air Force Civil Engineer Center met with residents Thursday to discuss its response to the finding of perfluorinated compounds at or above protective levels. Carroll told KCBD NewsChannel 11 around 200 bases across the United States were sampled to investigate the emerging contaminates, which were found to come from the fire fighting foam used on those bases.

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 private wells in the area of Reese AFB, including the Ogallala Aquifer, when drilling a well on the base. 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.

"We understand there are health effects related enough for EPA to issue this health advisory," Carroll said. "That's the main thing we are concentrating right now on is to determine if people's drinking water have levels of these constituents that are over those safe levels. We want to cut off that pathway to make sure people are drinking water that is safe to drink."

The Air Force began testing in a one-mile, down gradient radius around the base. However, Carroll said they will expand further and ask more residents if they can test their wells.

"Our immediate concern is to find out if people are drinking safe water," Carroll said. "Then, we can address the contaminates that are in the groundwater as far as any plans for cleanup are concerned. The first thing we want to do is to mitigate that risk to people's health."

If you are in that boundary East of the base and have not have your well sampled, contact Paul Carroll, at 806-885-5010 or at paul.carroll.1@us.af.mil.

Copyright 2018 KCBD. All rights reserved.