Grissom officials: Well tests show no chemical pollution

PERU, Ind. (AP) – Test results on drinking water wells near northern Indiana’s Grissom Air Reserve Base show no signs of pollution from a fire-suppressing foam once used at the base for training, military officials say.

Samples taken from four wells and the in-flow and out-flow points at the nearby city of Peru’s municipal water treament plant all had levels far below the federal government’s health advisory limits for perfluorinated compounds, or PFCs, said Jeff Woodring, 434th Base Civil Engineer chief environmental engineer.

That chemical is found in fire-suppressing foam used by firefighters since the 1970s.

“Some results were so low they were below the calculation testing limits and had to be estimated,” Woodring said in a statement released Wednesday.

PFCs are found in fire-suppressing foam once used to train Air Force firefighters near Grissom’s runway to battle petroleum-driven aircraft fires. Grissom is home to the Air Force Reserves’ 434th Air Refueling Wing, which flies KC-135 Stratotankers used to refuel other planes midair.

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The Air Force is testing 82 former and active installations nationwide for the chemical, which is also used in numerous household items, including non-stick cookware, food wrappers and microwave popcorn.

The wells tested at Grissom were those closest to the former firefighter training areas at the base about 50 miles north of Indianapolis. The Air Force is working to remove the remaining foam from the base, a former active base that was realigned as a reserve base in 1994.

The Grissom testing was conducted after the chemical was found this year at two sites on the base. That contamination was detected about 20 feet underground, although nearby drinking-water wells run at least 150 feet below the surface.

Officials said the amount of soil, clay and rock between the surface contamination and the wells is significant.

“We tested the water and are pleased that the results were very favorable,” said Col. Doug Schwartz, the 434th Air Refueling Wing’s commander.