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Tests Show Water Is Safe to Drink at Grissom

Grissom firefighters, operating two fire trucks, extinguish flames on a mock airframe during a night-time training exercise at Grissom Air Reserve Base, Ind., May 21, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Benjamin Mota)
Grissom firefighters, operating two fire trucks, extinguish flames on a mock airframe during a night-time training exercise at Grissom Air Reserve Base, Ind., May 21, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Benjamin Mota)

GRISSOM AIR RESERVE BASE -- Tests at Grissom Air Reserve Base have revealed the water is safe to drink after two polluted sites were found near the base earlier this year.

Water from four wells, as well as the inflow and outflow of the Peru Utilities water treatment plant, were tested for forms of perfluorinated compounds (PFCs), a synthetic chemical that is found in the foam used by firefighters since the 1970s.

The samples, which were collected Sept. 2, all had levels far below the EPA's provisional health advisory limits, according to base officials.

The wells tested were the closest to fire training areas used to train Air Force firefighters at the former active base that realigned in 1994.

The foam is no longer used in training and the Air Force is systematically removing it from the field.

"We made a commitment to our friends in the community to keep them informed of our environmental efforts," said Col. Doug Schwartz, 434th Air Refueling Wing commander. "We tested the water and are pleased that the results were very favorable."

PFCs are used in a variety household items including non-stick cookware, food wrappers and even microwave popcorn, according to a press release.

"Based on the test results, people would have to drink 75,000 liters of the sampled water to get the same equivalent of PFCs found in one bag of microwave popcorn," said Lisa Krawczyk, 434th CES environmental engineer.

The Air Force is currently testing 82 former and active installations. As a former active-duty installation that was downsized and realigned to a reserve base, Grissom falls into both categories.

Environmental engineers from the Air Force Civil Engineer Center are spearheading the Air Force's efforts in identifying, studying, and applying effective mediation strategies to clean up the chemical.

"Our environmental team is working closely with these professionals," Schwartz said. "We have a proven track record of resolving issues that affect the community because it's our community too."

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