EPA ‘displeased’ Wright-Patterson missed deadline for water testing

Last week, Ohio EPA directed Wright-Patterson to speed up clean-up of two contaminated drinking wells in Area A that exceeded U.S. EPA levels of lifetime exposure to perfluoroalkyl (PFAS) and to sample groundwater in nearby areas to determine if the contamination had spread. Both wells were taken off line this spring.

The state agency has concerns the wells could potentially pose a contamination threat to other drinking wells on base and seven drinking production wells near Huffman Dam that provide water to city of Dayton customers.

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>>>EPA asks Wright-Patterson to speed up clean up of drinking water wells

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Ohio EPA spokesman James Lee said in an email Friday the state agency’s director, Craig W. Butler, was “extremely displeased that Wright Patterson AFB continues to delay necessary sampling and testing of the ground water.”

“The Agency considers this issue to be very serious; it is important to conduct sampling as ordered to ensure protection of Dayton’s public drinking water supply,” Lee wrote.

Wright-Patterson leadership “takes this issue very seriously,” base spokeswoman Marie Vanover said in an email, but the military installation does not have the equipment needed to sample water extraction and monitoring wells. That made EPA’s directive to responding within five business days “unattainable,” she said.

Wright-Patterson and the Air Force are “working as expeditiously as possible to address this issue and we are committed to the safety of our base population and the public and we will continue to keep Ohio EPA informed of our progress and all the test results as they become available,” she wrote.

A Wright-Patterson civil engineering official said in a June 9 letter to Butler the Air Force received EPA’s directive June 2 and couldn’t meet the deadline within five business day working through federal regulations and the availability of funds.

The Air Force Civil Engineering Center planned to hire a contractor this week “and sampling will be conducted as soon as contractors can be activated,” wrote David A. Perkins, director of the 88th Civil Engineer Group at Wright-Patterson.

Once the sampling results are known, Wright-Patterson will notify the Ohio EPA and the city of Dayton, Perkins added. Perkins wrote a site inspection for the groundwater contaminants was scheduled to start in October with results due in early 2017.

Ohio EPA ordered the base to sample water in an extraction well at Wright-Patterson’s boundary, and monitoring wells between the boundary of the base and Huffman Dam, Lee said.

The two contaminated wells in Area A showed levels of perfluorooctanesulfonic acide (PFOS) and perfluroocaonic acid (PFOA) above a recently set U.S. EPA level of 70 parts per trillion. The substances have been linked to potential adverse health effects in infants.

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>>> Wright-Patt ordered to shut down well

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The finding led to a drinking water advisory issued last month for pregnant or lactating women and bottle-fed infants on the base. Wright-Patterson Medical Center gave patients bottled water and used it to prepare food, officials have said.

The Air Force base has offered bottled water to those covered under the advisory since it was issued last month. EPA has said adults, other than those cited in the health advisory, can continue to drink tap water.

The chemical PFOS was used in fire suppressant foam sprayed at military bases.

Michele Simmons, environmental director in the city water department, has said Dayton has not detected PFOS or PFOA in the city’s water supplies at Huffman Dam nor in the distribution system.

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