GRISSOM AIR RESERVE BASE – Air Force officials are working to pinpoint the impact of two polluted sites that were discovered earlier this year near Grissom Air Reserve Base.
Public Affairs Tech. Sgt. Doug Hays said groundwater tests revealed two locations that formerly served as fire-training areas are contaminated with PFCs, a synthetic chemical that is found in the foam used by firefighters since the 1970s.
The two polluted areas are located on the east side of the runway and a section that is no longer part of Grissom after it was realigned as a reserve base in 1994.
Hays said the contamination was detected at about 20 feet below the surface. The drinking-water wells near the base run between 150 to 180 feet below the surface, with soil, clay and bedrock sitting between the surface contamination and the wells.
Investigators will study groundwater flow and other indicators to determine if a potential pathway exists for human exposure to the chemical that would be above the EPA’s provisional health advisory for drinking water, he said.
Testing of the wells will begin in early September, and the samples will be expedited for examination.
“If there is a probable pathway for human consumption on, or off, the installation, we’ll aggressively pursue options that will both educate and offer potential remediation solutions,” Hays said in an email.
He said the impact and health risks associated with PFCs is an emerging science, and environmentalists nationwide are working to find solutions to clean up the chemical.
The Air Force will gather data to identify the best technique to mitigate human exposure until cleanup standards are available.
“We, like our neighbors, have a vested interest in this,” Hays said. “We live, work, eat and drink from the same table. We understand and share the concerns of the community, and are working hard to get the answers and find the best solution for us all.”
Officials are also working to remediate around 14 other sites on or near the base where pollutants have been found in the soil or water.
“We have a very good environmental office here, and we’ve worked hand in hand with the EPA and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management to make sure we have as clean of a facility as possible,” Hays said.