AF finds contamination at Ellsworth

ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. (KOTA TV) – The Air Force found some contamination in groundwater at the boundary of Ellsworth Air Force Base, caused by fire-fighting foam used at a training site.

U.S. Air Force firefighters extinguish a simulated aircraft fire as part of an operational readiness exercise on Ellsworth AFB, July 15, 2013. The firefighters, assigned to the 28th Civil Engineer Squadron Fire Department, use exercises to hone their skills for real-world operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alystria Maurer)

The contamination was first discovered in 2011 and further testing this year continues to show perfluorinated compounds (called PFCs) are present, exceeding health advisory levels.

Later this year, the Air Force will install monitoring wells to determine the extent of groundwater contamination on the base and in the surround area.

There are 12 sites that will be further investigated for PFCs May 2017.

The Air Force has already stopped training with the fire-fighting foam and awarded a $6.2 million contract for a replacement system.

Ellsworth is one of 200 bases tested for contaminated groundwater.

PFCs are man-made compounds present in commonly used products like nonstick coatings, food packaging and stain repellents.