Health and safety constant concerns for Ellsworth Air Force Base

Published: Apr. 28, 2016 at 2:26 PM CDT
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It's a simple, but important mission.

“The air force is committed to protecting human health and the environment,” Melody Jensen, Ellsworth Restoration Program Manager, said.

And, that's exactly what Ellsworth Air Force Base is doing by working with contractors , the Environmental Protection Agency , and South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources since the1990's.

“Going on right now on the base this week is our large annual sampling event, where we sample approximately 300 wells across Ellsworth. This is the information we use to monitor our contaminated plumes,” Jensen said.

The majority of these sites are closed landfills and are constantly monitored to ensure nothing is escapes. But this isn't the only treatment project on base.

“PFC’s are an emergent contaminate identified at the air force , on the air force it comes from A-FFF — which is a fire-fighting foam that is used to put out fires, “ Jensen said.

In February of 2014 the air force identified 12 places that needed more testing due to possible A-FFF contamination. That testing will take place in October.

“If concentrations are found above the EPA's health advisories levels additional work will be done to further define the extent of the contamination and determine a remediation method,” Jensen said.

There’s no set date for completion of these projects. But they do have projected funding until 2040.

There is an additional PFC investigation taking place at the south end of the base. That’s where former firefighters trained using A-FFF they will complete additional field work in August.