Phase four sampling continues, community-approach key to long-term solution

FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- Officials from the Air Force Civil Engineer Center began notifying residents who will be part of phase four water sampling for elevated levels of Perfluorooctanesulfonic (PFOS) and Perfluorooctanoic acids (PFOA) today.

The phase four sampling includes a look at approximately 100 residential wells in two areas: immediately northwest of the phase three sampling area, which was north of the base, and east to the City of Airway Heights, where sampling will take place roughly one mile south and two miles north of Highway 2.

The new sampling areas were chosen as a preventative measure and based on the results of phase three sampling that occurred July 12-15.

Individual residents will be personally notified of preliminary results as soon as they are released by AFCEC.

“Fairchild’s priority is to work with AFCEC and community partners to be as thorough as possible,” said Col Ryan Samuelson, 92nd Air Refueling commander. “We requested additional testing immediately after phase 3 results came in to ensure an enhanced understanding of the issue, and to reassure the community of our commitment to finding long-term mitigation solutions that are needed.”

In addition to providing bottled water to impacted residents, the Air Force has worked to ensure residents have the latest information and understanding of test results.

“We will provide information as quickly as possible to our neighbors, and will be here to answer questions or concerns from the community as we navigate this issue,” Samuelson said.

Local area officials recognized the Air Force’s efforts and stressed the need for a community-approach on this issue.

"Partnership has been vital to keeping our residents informed," said Albert Tripp, Airway Heights city manager. "Our top priority is to take care of our community, and to ensure they have the resources they need. We will continue to work with Fairchild Air Force Base and the Air Force Civil Engineer Center to address this issue."

In phase three of PFOS/PFOA sampling, 50 residential wells were tested to the north and south of the base. Twenty-one wells to the north were found to have PFOS/PFOA concentrations above the EPA lifetime health advisory levels, 19 wells had concentrations below the HA and 10 had no detectable concentrations. All southern-tested wells were non-detect for PFOS/PFOA. Where samples showed PFOS/PFOA concentrations in drinking water above the EPA advisory, the Air Force immediately implemented alternate drinking water solutions.

PFOS/PFOA are unregulated and are classified by the EPA as “emerging contaminants.” They are present in common household items and heat and fire resistant products. The EPA issued updated PFOS/PFOA lifetime HA levels in May of 2016.

"PFOS and PFOA are not regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act, so the EPA doesn't have a formal regulatory role here," said EPA Region 10 Remedial Project Manager Kim Prestbo. "Nonetheless, given our extensive experience addressing similar contamination problems, we are committed to providing technical assistance.”

The Air Force looks to the EPA for standards and guidance on environmental issues, and will continue to take proactive steps to protect communities from negative impacts of mission areas.

Information about the Air Force’s environmental stewardship programs and PFOS/PFOA contaminant testing can be found on Fairchild’s website at www.fairchild.af.mil.

For additional questions and information, contact the Fairchild AFB Public Affairs office at 247-5705 or email 92arw.pa@us.af.mil.