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Base addresses community concerns about contaminated water

Col. Ryan Samuelson, 92nd Air Refueling Wing commander, speaks during a public meeting concerning water contamination at Medical Lake High School, Medical Lake, Wash. May 23, 2017. Fairchild Air Force Base leaders worked with community partners, health authorities and environmental scientists to present local residents with information on groundwater contamination.
(U.S. Air Force photo / Airman 1st Class Ryan Lackey)

Col. Ryan Samuelson, 92nd Air Refueling Wing commander, speaks during a public meeting concerning water contamination during a meeting at Medical Lake High School, Medical Lake, Wash. May 23, 2017. Fairchild Air Force Base leaders worked with community partners, health authorities and environmental scientists to present local residents with information on groundwater contamination. Samuelson noted that he will remain fully accessible to any member of the community who has questions to ensure that there is transparency and that “the patriots of Fairchild are here to help and not to hurt.” (U.S. Air Force photo / Airman 1st Class Ryan Lackey)

Colonel Ryan Samuelson, the 92nd Air Refueling Wing commander at Fairchild Air Force Base, gave opening remarks and addressed concerns about emerging contaminants to an audience at the Medical Lake High School Gymnasium on May 23, 2017. Contaminates perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooclanoic acid (PFOA) were discovered during preliminary groundwater sampling of two water wells used to supply the city of Airway Heights.

Local residents seek additional information about groundwater contamination at booths manned by local health, science and administrative authorities at Medical Lake High School, Medical Lake, Wash. May 23, 2017. Fairchild Air Force Base leadership and environmental specialists, in an act of transparency to the local community, arranged a public meeting and information-sharing session to help inform residents.
(U.S. Air Force photo / Airman 1st Class Ryan Lackey)

Local residents seek additional information about groundwater contamination at booths manned by local health, science and administrative authorities during a meeting at Medical Lake High School, Medical Lake, Wash. May 23, 2017. Fairchild Air Force Base leadership and environmental specialists, in an act of transparency to the local community, arranged a public meeting and information-sharing session to help inform residents.The ongoing sampling efforts on and around Fairchild AFB are part of a proactive and comprehensive site inspection program to determine if, and to what extent, past base activities contributed to elevated levels of PFOS/PFOA in groundwater. PFOS/PFOAs are unregulated compounds and are classified by the EPA as "emerging contaminants." (U.S. Air Force photo / Airman 1st Class Ryan Lackey)

MEDICAL LAKE, Wash. -- Base officials addressed community concerns about well-water testing on and around Fairchild AFB for Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) and/or Perfluorooctanoic acids (PFOA) during a public meeting held at Medical Lake High School, Medical Lake, Washington, May 23, 2017.

Officials from Fairchild AFB and the City of Airway Heights were joined by subject-matter experts from the Washington State Department of Health, Environmental Protection Agency, the Spokane Regional Health District and the Air Force Civil Engineer Center who spoke with more than 400 community members and provided them the opportunity to discuss details about PFOS/PFOA contamination in private and municipal well water. The meeting was conducted in order to allow concerned community members to voice concerns and ask questions of experts and base officials.

“We will continue to remain completely transparent as we work to determine the extent of PFOS/PFOA contamination and how to quickly and effectively provide clean water to those possibly affected by past base activities,” said Samuelson. “Your Fairchild is committed to working with the city and regulatory partners to protect human health and resolve the issue at hand.”

Samuelson noted that he will remain fully accessible to any member of the community who has questions to ensure that there is transparency and that “the patriots of Fairchild are here to help and not to hurt.”

“Fairchild continues to be a valued partner in helping the city,” said Albert Tripp, Airway Heights city manager. “When we learned about the possible water contamination, we took a proactive approach getting the water tested and closing down the affected wells. The city will continue to work with our partners and provide drinking water until we have the all clear (to lift the advisory).”

The ongoing sampling efforts on and around Fairchild AFB are part of a proactive and comprehensive site inspection program to determine if, and to what extent, past base activities contributed to elevated levels of PFOS/PFOA in groundwater. PFOS/PFOAs are unregulated compounds and are classified by the EPA as "emerging contaminants."

“We care about solving the problem, and we care about protecting our environment and leaving a legacy that generations to come can enjoy,” Samuelson said. “Transparency and accessibility are my top key words in this with you. If you have frustrations with base activities, give them to me and I will work tirelessly with you to get a resolution as soon as possible.”

To date, the City of Airway Heights, Fairchild AFB and other volunteers have provided and distributed more than 80,000 gallons of water to citizens of Airway Heights affected by the city's drinking water advisory.