Battle Creek – The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has identified two private drinking wells near an Air National Guard base with high levels of chemical contaminants.

The department in April began testing 61 drinking water wells at homes near the Battle Creek Air National Guard Base. The testing followed concerns over the military site’s decades-long use of firefighting foam containing perfluorinated chemicals, known as PFAS. The department had detected PFAS at the site last year.

PFAS have been linked to health issues, including cancer. The Air Force used the PFAS-linked foam for extinguishing fires from 1970 to 2016.

The department has received the results from 29 of the 61 collected samples, said Scott Dean, the department’s communications director. Two of the wells exceed the Environmental Protection Agency’s safety standards of 70 parts-per-trillion, he said. The two affected homes are being provided bottled water.

The contaminants were found in other wells but at less concerning levels that didn’t surpass the EPA’s advisory limit, he said.

“We did find another 11 positive results within that number, but they were under the 70 parts-per-trillion criteria,” Dean said.

The department plans to continue testing after the findings.

“We’ll do some testing of some wells, you know, in sort of that one mile perimeter around the base,” Dean said.

The Department of Military and Veterans Affairs collected environmental samples at the same time as the state to investigate if local drinking water had become contaminated. Environmental samples were taken at 13 sites on the base.

A final report of any PFAS contamination found at the base will be released at the end of summer, said Air National Guard 1st Lt. Andrew Layton. The investigation may be expanded if high levels of contaminants are found.

The Air National Guard will hold a public meeting on the contamination July 30 in Battle Creek.


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