Air Force admits to dumping contaminated water for years

Published: Oct. 28, 2016 at 11:04 PM MDT
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According to an investigation by our news partners at The Gazette, Air Force officials admitted that contaminated water was emptied into the sewer system, and then into Fountain Creek for years.

This is just the latest development into the investigation to figure out how perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) made their way into the drinking water for Security-Widefield and Fountain.

According to The Gazette, Air Force officials say crews at Peterson Air Force Base had been dumping the contaminated water into the Colorado Springs Utilities sewer system up to three times a year until 2015.

The Air Force has been using a firefighting foam that contains the PFC's since the 1970's. Water mixed with that foam was dumped into the sewer system. That water goes to the Colorado Springs Utilities water treatment plant before being emptied into Fountain Creek, but PFCs can't be removed in the treatment plant, unlike more common contaminants that can.

There is no word yet on if the dumping is directly related to the drinking water in Security-Widefield having levels of PFCs above the EPA's recommended levels, but there is an investigation into that theory.

Tom Roeder/Gazette Senior Military Reporter: "While we don't have any absolute scientific proof, this is sure a smoking gun sitting out there. Colorado Springs Utilities seemed quite surprised by the news of these releases today. Spokesman Steve Berry told us they had no authorization from the utility to be putting this chemical down the sewer pipe."

Peterson Air Force Base released a statement last week saying that they had an unplanned dump of around 150,000 gallons of water contaminated with PFCs from the firefighting foam into the sewer system. An Air Force Special Investigation team is currently trying to figure out if that discharge was accidental or intentional.

PFCs have been linked to a number of health risks, including cancer and birth defects.

Earlier this week, the investigation by The Gazette uncovered the fact that the Air Force was aware of the potential health hazards of PFCs for years.

Air Force officials say the firefighting foam containing PFCs is scheduled to be replaced in the next week or so.

You can read the full Gazette story