Battle Creek’s Air National Guard Base testing water as ‘precautionary’ measure

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. — The Air National Guard Base in Battle Creek is not taking any chances with the possibility that their groundwater is unsafe, said First/Lieutenant Andrew Layton. Personnel began testing the groundwater on Monday, looking for any dangerous chemicals.

“Right now, we don’t know if there’s contamination or not,” said F/Lt. Layton during an interview at the base on Dickman Road. “These tests are purely precautionary.”

Specifically, 53 wells within a one-mile radius of their base are being examined for PFAs or PFOAs, Layton said. The contaminants were compounds used in AFFF, or Aqueous Fire Fighting Foam,which fireman at the base used between 1970 and 2015.

"The philosophy behind the testing really goes back to how would we handle this if we knew there was a risk for contamination in our own well at home," said F/Lt. Layton. "We’d get it tested."

Back in May 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency issued a health advisory about the compounds and established a lifetime health advisory level of "70 part per trillion for PFOs and/or PFAs in drinking water."

"I’ve heard the analogy used that [it] would be about one drop of water in 20 Olympic-sized swimming pools," said F/Lt. Layton. "So that’s what we’re looking for."

Just last month, the state's fire marshal started surveying use and disposal of the foam by various departments.  F/Lt. Layton said their focus right now is on public safety and believe there's no reason for people to be concerned.

“The results are expected back in June,” he said. “When those results arrive we will definitely be as transparent as possible with them.”

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