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Environment and Planning

Residents Near Washington Air Force Base Advised Not To Drink Tap Water

Emily Schwing
Northwest News Network
Flats of water were passed out to residents of Airway Heights, Washington, Wednesday while residents were told it could be days before drinking tap water is advised.

Residents of Airway Heights, Washington, have been advised not to drink water from the tap. The advisory came Tuesday from nearby Fairchild Air Force Base, as part of the Pentagon’s program to test and clean water sources near military bases around the country.

The Air Force said test results were preliminary and that the advisory was “out of an abundance of caution.” Early tests indicate the presence of two chemicals in local well water at concentrations above EPA guidelines.

The City of Airway Heights has stopped using those wells and residents were told it could be days before drinking tap water is advised. The Air Force advisory said the water supply will be flushed and re-tested within four days.

“We will remain completely transparent as we work with the city to determine the extent of the PFOS/PFOA contamination and how to quickly and effectively provide clean water,” Fairchild Air Force Base commander Col. Ryan Samuelson said in the Air Force advisory.

PFOS/PFOA stands for Perfluorooctanesulfonic and Perfluorooctanoic acids. Air Force fire trucks used those chemicals in fire suppressant foams until last year, when the EPA identified health risks associated with PFOS/PFOA and the Pentagon announced it would test drinking water at hundreds of military bases.

As car after car pulled up behind an Airway Heights supermarket Wednesday morning, volunteer Shirley Hunter asked each driver how many people were in their family as she gave away water to local residents. Each car pulled away with a case of water for every two people per household, distributed by an Adventist volunteer group and the local fire department.

Fairchild has scheduled an informational meeting at Medical Lake High School Tuesday, May 23 at 6:00 p.m.