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

Ecology and EPA restart free PFAS well testing in West Plains, expanding eligibility

Private wells on the West Plains eligible for free well testing from EPA, Ecology.  (Provided by the Washington State Department of Ecology)

Free PFAS well testing has restarted on the West Plains as the EPA and state Department of Ecology determine the scope of contamination.

Testing conducted by the government agencies first began earlier this year. Over 300 samples were collected in March. But now they want more samples from a larger area that might have contaminated groundwater.

“When the sampling closed at the end of March, we started hearing from people in the sampling area who did not get sampled. We saved their information and, as the list grew, began talking with EPA about doing another round,” Ecology spokesperson Erika Beresovoy said.

Funding exists for another 125 eligible requests. As long as that limit is not reached, testing will be available until June 18. Those interested in having their private well sampled can sign up at

The wells will be tested for per- and polyfluoroalkyl – PFAS, a family of over 10,000 long-lasting chemicals used in commercial and industrial products.

Dubbed “forever chemicals,” depending upon their forms, PFAS can take decades to dissipate in the environment or to metabolize out of the body. Because of the chemicals’ widespread use, most people in the United States and around the world have some level of PFAS circulating in their body.

The West Plains has been exposed to high levels of the chemicals from firefighting foam that was used at Fairchild Air Force Base and the Spokane International Airport. Ecology is conducting an investigation and cleanup at the International Airport in a process separate from this well-testing program.

The initial round of results found 56% of wells tested had levels of PFAS above drinking water standards. These tests were taken from wells located from the Spokane River to the east, Hayford Road to the west and I-90 to the south.

This new round of testing expands south the area in which testing is available. Private wells southeast of Interstate 90 and north of Thorpe Road are now eligible. According to Ecology’s Well Construction & Licensing Database, there are about 30 wells in this area.

“Initially, we selected the sampling area based on our understanding of groundwater flow direction and the sample results people had shared with us prior to the sampling in March 2024. Groundwater flows north to northeast in this area so we focused generally northeast of the two potential sources,” Beresovoy said.

The agencies did not include this area south of the interstate in the initial round because they believed it received water from the City of Spokane.

“One of the reference wells sampled in March was in this expanded area and had PFAS above the drinking water standard. We wanted to extend sampling to other residents with private wells nearby who may be concerned about their drinking water,” Beresovoy said.