Jan 07, 2019

Georgia Air Bases Find Groundwater Contamination

Three bases faces groundwater contamination that may threaten nearby drinking water sources

Groundwater contamination discovered at Georgia air bases
Groundwater contamination discovered at Georgia air bases

Recent tests at three Georgia military air bases found groundwater contamination caused by toxic firefighting foam. While the U.S. Air Force said that the drinking water in the area remains safe, residents are questioning the quality of their water.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, experts and residents are arguing that the military’s review was too narrow and failed to test water off of the base for contamination from per- and polyfluoralkyl substances (PFAS). So far in Georgia, the contamination has been detected at Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Cobb County, Robins Air Force Base in Houston County and Moody Air Force Base in Lowndes County. While the Air Force asserts that the groundwater contamination does not affect drinking water, it has acknowledged contaminated drinking water in communities close to bases in more than a dozen other states.

“Given that there are concentrations of these compounds on site, over time they’re going to move off of the site. That’s just common sense,” said Jamie DeWitt, an associate professor of pharmacology and toxicology at East Carolina University.

The Air Force said in a statement that their testing is constrained by a lack of regulation for PFAS chemicals and mostly focused on PFOS and PFOA, as reported by the Associated Press.

“Because PFOS/PFOA are unregulated and Georgia or federal entities have not established standards for non-drinking water sources, we cannot expend government resources on those water sources,” the Air Force said in a statement.  

The Moody Air Force Base is bisected by Beatty Branch creek, which flows into the Withlacoochee River, and surface water from the base runs into Grand Bay Swamp, a protected wildlife refuge. While the base has found drinking water on the base safe, those wells extend more than 400 ft into a protected aquifer. Residents with more shallow wells are concerned their drinking water may be contaminated, as well as the impact on surface water and wetlands surround the base.