SAN ANGELO, Texas – Personnel at Goodfellow AFB and others are participating in a Defense Department and Air Force investigation looking into harmful chemicals from firefighting foam. This after concerns that chemicals might have flowed off base property. According to the EPA, the chemical perfluorooctane sulfonate and others used in firefighting foam, can cause lung and thyroid damage.
“The week of September, 14 we went door to door to approximately 300 homes and talked to people,” said Goodfellow Remedial Project Manager Judy Overbey. “[We] interviewed them about their wells, if they had a well and whether it was used for drinking water. If so we asked permission to sample there well. We sampled 47 wells.”
The investigation is ongoing, but depending on the findings, impacted well owners may be supplied with replacement drinking water, while the Air Force has transitioned to a less toxic foam. “At Goodfellow AFB we’re following the C.E.R.C.L.A. process, and C.E.R.C.L.A. is the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act,” explained Cornell Long, Chief of Joint Base San Antonio Installation Support. “It’s also known as superfund. It’s the process that we follow at all of our installations, for environmental cleanup. The first two phases of that process, are the preliminary assessment and the site inspection. The third prong is to prevent and the prevention aspect of it is, is to remove the legacy foam and we have removed legacy phone from our inventories we’ve transitioned to a new firefighting foam.”
According to Long, firefighting equipment has been retrofitted to use the new foam, and the new foam will only be used in emergencies and not for training.