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Testing finds chemicals in water samples at Luke Air Force Base

(Facebook Photo/Luke AFB, Arizona-56th Fighter Wing)

PHOENIX – Potentially toxic chemicals were found in groundwater at Luke Air Force Base, but the drinking water at the West Valley facility was deemed safe.

In a report released Wednesday, U.S. Air Force said it conducted testing at two Arizona facilities, Luke and the Gila Bend Air Force Auxiliary Field, to determine if two chemicals from a foam firefighting agent were showing up in the water.

The drinking water was deemed safe at both locations, but more analysis in areas surrounding Luke is pending.

Inspectors analyzed the presence Perfluorooctane Sulfanate (PFOS) and Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) in ground and surface water.

The Gila Bend samples were clear of the chemicals.

However, levels in several samples at Luke were above the Environmental Protection Agency health advisory levels of 70 parts per trillion, the base said in a press release.

Because of that, more testing will be done in areas surrounding Luke, which is located west of Litchfield Road between Northern Avenue and Camelback Road.

Wells are being inspected in Glendale, Goodyear, Litchfield Park and unincorporated parts of Maricopa County within 1 mile of Luke, a base spokeswoman told YourValley.net.

A Glendale spokesman said the city’s drinking water is regularly tested and safe for consumption, the website reported.

“We will continue moving forward aggressively in our investigation,” Brig. Gen. Todd Canterbury, 56th Fighter Wing commander, said in the release.

“Our goals are to protect human health, keep residents informed throughout the inspection and ensure safe drinking water.”

The Arizona sites were among 203 installations that have used Aqueous Film Forming Foam to fight fires.

The Air Force started using the agent in 1970 but has phased it out in favor of a formula with no PFOS and trace amounts of PFOA.

The foam was replaced in Luke’s fire vehicles in 2017 and at all but one of its aircraft hangars in 2018.

Retrofitting was completed at Gila Bend in 2017.

According to U.S. Air Force Civil Engineer website, “PFOS and PFOA are classified as emerging contaminants because they do not have established regulatory standards, but evolving science has identified potential risk to humans and regulatory standards are under consideration.”

The EPA didn’t established health advisory levels for PFOS and PFOA in drinking water until 2016.

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