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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Fairchild officials testing 100 more wells for firefighting chemicals

During a public meeting, Fairchild Air Force Base Commander, Col. Ryan Samuelson addresses concerns about the contaminants PFOS/PFOA that have entered drinking water wells in and around the City of Airway Heights, Tues., May 23, 2017. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

About 100 more wells near Fairchild Air Force Base will be tested for toxic firefighting chemicals, officials said Monday.

This fourth phase of testing follows the revelation late last month that concentrations of the perfluorinated chemicals known as PFOS and PFOA were found at concentrations nearly six times the level that federal regulators believe is safe.

The chemicals, which were key ingredients in a widely used firefighting foam, previously were detected in the area south and east of the base, near a training site where base firefighters practiced dousing aircraft fires. The chemicals seeped into the aquifer, poisoning dozens of private wells and the city of Airway Heights’ tap water.

In mid-July, Air Force officials sampled 50 wells in an area just north of Fairchild’s main gates along U.S. Highway 2, and in an area south of the base. Forty of those wells tested positive for the chemicals, with 21 exceeding the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s recommendation of 70 parts per trillion.

Now samples will be taken from two new areas. One will be north of the base, near Christensen Road. The other will be east of the base to the city of Airway Heights, spanning about 1 mile south and 2 miles north of the highway.