Newspaper Says Chemicals Found in Drinking Water Near South Carolina Air Base

January 17, 2020

A newspaper says it found high levels of a toxic chemical in the drinking water near one of South Carolina’s largest military bases.

The Post and Courier paid University of Rhode Island researchers to examine tap water at the Crescent Mobile Home Park near Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter County.

The researchers found significant amounts of a compound known as PFOS, according to the newspaper. Such chemicals have been linked to a variety of health problems, including cancer and liver and thyroid problems. They have been used by the military in firefighting foam since the 1970s.

The EPA’s recommended limit is 70 parts per trillion, but the water sample from the trailer park contained chemical concentrations of 96 parts per trillion, the newspaper said.

A 2019 environmental study by the Air Force found the same chemical in groundwater under the base and noted that the mobile home park draws its water from less than a mile away from the contamination. It also suggested that the chemicals may have spread off the base. But the newspaper reported that neither state nor federal officials moved to test the groundwater at Crescent or neighboring communities.

The Air Force has promised on multiple occasions to replace drinking water sources, if significant contamination is found and the pollutants can be traced back to Shaw.

That could involve the Air Force paying for an advanced filtration system to remove the chemicals from the drinking water wells. Or it could require the military to hook up communities to another public water source.

Neither of those options have been implemented yet.

Mark Kinkade, an Air Force spokesman, said the military would take The Post and Courier’s lab results into consideration, but will need to conduct its own testing at a federally approved laboratory before it decides whether to replace the drinking water at Crescent.

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