LUBBOCK, Texas — On Tuesday, the U.S. Air Force began field work to investigate chemicals found in water near the former Reese Air Force Base.
From 1970 until the base closure in 1997, Reese and many other Air Force bases trained their firefighters to extinguish air craft fires using firefighting foam containing PFAS, or Polyfluoroalkyl compounds.
Paul Caroll, Air Force Program Manager for the Former Reese Air Base said they became aware of the harmful effects of PFAS in 2017. Since then, they have began investigating.
The Air Force Civil Engineer Center began their investigative field work in June, and for the next five weeks, they will be installing 25 monitoring wells in a 12 mile downgradient.
“This is to gather information to determine the nature and extent of contamination in the Ogallala aquifer here,” Caroll said.
Caroll said residents in the area won’t be affected.
“These wells are monitoring wells only. They’ll be flush mounds so they’ll hardly be invisible in the neighborhoods once the drilling rig is gone and the drilling is completed,” Caroll said. “There will be crews around the rig every once and a while, sampling the wells.”
The CDC reports according to several studies, the contaminant has been linked to an increase risk in cancer and higher cholesterol levels.
Residents near the area like Lacey Raschke said the Air Force has been doing a great job of keeping them informed.
“Now, of course some of what they’ve done with the filtration has still caused it to be yucky like when it sets, but I think they’re still working on that issue… but they’ve been really good about listening and discussing it with us,” Raschke said.
She said residents have been given water bottles.
“Actually over a year and then they put in the well with the filtration system,” Raschke said.
Caroll said their findings will go to the Texas Commission on Environmental Equality, and will help to devise a plan to address PFAS contamination.
“We’re expediting these investigations so that we can initiate the requirements for remediation,” Caroll said.