Public Affairs Division
JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas – The Air Force is asking owners of private drinking water wells near Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas, to allow sampling as part of its on-going effort to determine if chemicals used in firefighting foam may have migrated off the installation.
In September 2020, the Air Force Civil Engineer Center sampled 47 off-base wells near the installation to determine if Perfluorooctane Sulfonate and Perfluorooctanoic Acid, or PFOS/PFOA, is present at levels above the Environmental Protection Agency’s lifetime health advisory, or HA, of 70 parts per trillion in drinking water. Preliminary results indicate PFOS/PFOA may be present in levels above the EPA lifetime HA in some sampled wells north to northeast of the installation. The Air Force immediately provided bottled water to those residents and is awaiting final validation of sampling results.
The Air Force initially identified over 300 parcels with potential drinking water wells to sample in a one-half to the one-mile area around the base bounded by the Concho River to the North, FM 306 to the East, FM 765 to the South, and Christoval Road and the Concho River to the West.
AFCEC mailed letters to those parcels identified, followed up with certified letters to well owners who did not respond to the original request, then conducted a door-to-door survey to verify if privately owned wells were present and used for human drinking water consumption. The Air Force also hand-delivered 109 informational packets during the door-to-door survey. To date, 86 parcel owners have not responded.
“We’re members of the San Angelo community, and our priority is to protect human health and our valuable drinking water resources,” said Col. Andres Nazario, 17th Training Wing commander. “AFCEC has reached out, and we’re reaching out again. If you received a request from us in the past and didn’t respond, or if you have a well that may be in the sample area and you use it for drinking water, contact AFCEC so they can help address your concerns.”
Well owners who may have a well in the sample area primarily used as a source of drinking water for human consumption can contact AFCEC’s sampling contractor at (703) 736-4506 between 8 AM and 5 PM CST, or leave a message after hours. Well owners can also request support by email to firstname.lastname@example.org .
The sampling is part of the Air Force’s program to determine if PFOS/PFOA from its mission activities is present in drinking water supplies near installations. The compounds are part of a class of perfluorinated compounds called PFAS and were components of Aqueous Film Forming Foam, or AFFF, used by the military, civilian aviation and industry to control petroleum-based fires. The Air Force determined AFFF, containing PFOS/PFOA, may have been released at fire training areas, emergency response and aircraft crash sites.
AFCEC’s environmental team identified locations on Goodfellow AFB where the foam may have been released, and groundwater, surface water, soil and sediment sampling indicated there were reasonable pathways for PFOS/PFOA from AFFF release areas to reach off-base drinking water supplies.
When the Air Force identifies drinking water sources with PFOS/PFOA at levels above the EPA’s lifetime HA, and the Air Force is a likely contributor, it takes steps to ensure access to drinking water that meets the EPA lifetime HA. This may include supplying households with bottled drinking water, connecting homes to a municipal drinking water supply, or installing a treatment/filtration system on private wells until a long-term measure is in place. If the well-users have access to drinking water that meets the EPA’s lifetime HA, or if wells contain PFOS/PFOA at lower levels, the Air Force continues to monitor the levels.
To prevent further contamination, the Air Force replaced legacy AFFF in emergency response vehicles at Goodfellow AFB with an alternative formula that meets military specifications and is non-detect for PFOS, with trace amounts of PFOA. Additionally, the Air Force placed strict controls on the use of AFFF in training and clean-up after emergency use.
For more information on the Air Force’s response to PFOS/PFOA visit: https://www.afcec.af.mil/WhatWeDo/Environment/Perfluorinated-Compounds/