EPA asks Wright-Patterson to speed up clean up of drinking water wells

Ohio EPA fears Dayton drinking water could be at risk.


A state agency has directed Wright-Patterson to expedite the removal of contamination in two drinking water wells out of concern a plume of contamination might one day reach the city of Dayton’s water production wells near Huffman Dam.

In a June 2 directive, Ohio EPA director Craig W. Butler told 88th Air Base Wing commander Col. John M. Devillier of “additional work needed” to prevent perfluoroalkyl substances detected in groundwater from contaminating additional drinking water wells at Wright-Patterson and potentially reaching the city of Dayton’s seven drinking water production wells at Huffman Dam.

—-

May 26: Wright-Patt shuts down another problem well

May 23: Wright-Patterson yet to decide if it will shut down contaminated wells on base

May 20: Wright-Patt ordered to shut down well

—-

The two contaminated drinking wells in Area A at Wright-Patterson taken offline in recent days pose “a continued threat to the public health from the potential plume emanation to the city of Dayton well field,” the EPA letter said.

Ohio EPA directed the base to submit water testing samples pulled from the area of concern within a week. If additional contamination is found, the EPA directed further actions to determine the extent of and to prevent further contamination.

Water samples at two wells in Area A at Wright Patterson showed levels of perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) and perflurooctaonic acid (PFOA) above a recently set U.S. EPA threshold of 70 parts per trillion, Ohio EPA said. The finding led to a drinking water advisory last month for pregnant or lactating women and bottle-fed infants. Exposure to the substances have been linked to possible adverse health effects in infants, but adults — other than those listed in the advisory —can continue to drink tap water, according to the EPA.

The city of Dayton has not detected PFOS or PFOA contaminants in Huffman Dam drinking production wells nor in its water distribution system, according to Michele Simmons, the city’s environmental director in the water department.

“This is not an imminent threat to our well field,” she said Friday. “This is something we want to plan … to prevent from entering our well field.”

Since late May, Wright-Patterson has offered bottled water to those affected on base and to Wright-Patterson Medical Center patients.

The chemical agent PFOS was used in military firefighting suppressant foam.

The base volunatrily closed one well in April and shut the second May 26. The EPA issued an emergency closure order last week when Wright-Patterson did not immediately close the second well within days of initial notification while base civil engineers evaluated the impact on water pressure needs.

The two contaminated wells are more than two miles to the nearest city production well at Huffman Dam, Simmons said.

Determining location

Ohio EPA has asked Wright-Patterson to determine if the plume is moving and where it might be headed, said Heidi Griesmer, a state EPA spokeswoman.

“The hydrology would indicate it would be moving toward Dayton but we need actual data,” Griesmer said. “We’re asking them to put that on a fast track so they can look at that now and get information as soon as possible.”

The military base does not have data to determine the direction of any potential plume, Wright-Patterson spokeswoman Marie Vanover said in an email Friday. However, she added, a “contract is in place and a work plan is being developed that will be submitted to the Ohio EPA and the U.S. EPA in August” to find answers.

The base had already planned to test boundary sentry wells and monitoring wells downstream that detect contamination in groundwater “as expeditiously as possible” to determine if contaminants had entered the area of concern, she said.

Wright-Patterson planned to install a temporary water filtering system for the two contaminated wells while it investigates a long-term solution, she said. It also has started monthly sampling of four drinking wells still in operation in Area A and at the brick housing area, Child Development Center in Area A and in a west ramp location near the 445th Airlift Wing.

The city will work with the Ohio EPA to determine what steps to take in response to its findings, Simmons said. “We work very closely with EPA to monitor everything coming downstream from Wright-Patterson,” she said.

Dayton and Wright-Patterson have cooperated for years to protect the city’s water supply, she said.

The city samples the seven drinking wells near Huffman Dam annually, but plans to increase how often it tests once it determines EPA findings of Wright-Patterson’s upcoming tests, she said. The city’s 18 to 20 groundwater monitoring wells in the area, meant to detect contamination prior to reaching a drinking production well, are sampled twice a year. Water in the distribution system to consumers is tested daily during the work week, she said.

The base also has a network of monitoring wells, some of which it had EPA approval to shut down in recent years. In its directive Friday, EPA called on Wright-Patterson to evaluate its monitoring well network and add additional wells if needed if contamination is detected.

Deemed an EPA Superfund site, base environmental officials have worked for years and the Air Force has spent millions of dollars to clean up contaminated sites on the more than 8,100-acre base.

The Ohio EPA issued the June 2 directive under a decades-old administrative order reached with Wright-Patterson in 1988.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Xenia house offers help for women struggling with addiction
Xenia house offers help for women struggling with addiction

Women looking for treatment to drug or alcohol addiction have a new option in Xenia with Her Story, a nonprofit organization that provides housing for those waiting to get into recovery. Three women are currently residing in the home, which was opened in late August, and calls are coming in daily, according to Her Story’s founder and president...
Woman hospitalized after stabbing at Dayton home
Woman hospitalized after stabbing at Dayton home

Police are investigating after a woman was stabbed inside a Dayton home Wednesday morning.  Officers and medics responded to the report around 10:15 a.m. at the home in the 1200 block of Canfield Avenue.  The victim was transported to an area hospital for treatment, but their condition was not immediately known.  Homicide detectives...
Crews battle house fire on East High Street in Springfield
Crews battle house fire on East High Street in Springfield

Six of the units in the building suffered heavy smoke damage, and the fire spread to the attic, officials said, noting that the tenants won’t be able to staying in their apartments tonight. There were no injuries reported, and the cause of the fire remains under investigation. Firefighters are battling a house fire on East High Street in Springfield...
3 reasons to be a part of beloved Dayton Halloween tradition — the Stoddard Avenue Pumpkin Glow
3 reasons to be a part of beloved Dayton Halloween tradition — the Stoddard Avenue Pumpkin Glow

One of Dayton’s most cherished Halloween traditions, The Stoddard Avenue Pumpkin Glow, is right around the corner. This means that Dayton will soon be basking in the glow of hundreds (if not more) of beautifully carved pumpkins near the Dayton Art Institute and Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church on Oct. 30-31. The Stoddard Avenue Pumpkin Glow...
Clark County Municipal Court cases
Clark County Municipal Court cases

CASES CALLED MONDAY INCLUDED: Tiann T. Burton, 19, of 1013 Pine St., burglary, kidnapping, dismissed - prosecutor request. Jessica L. Fenwick, 28, of 1018 Middle St., possession of drug abuse instrument, guilty, 11 days jail; tamper with evidence, dismissed - prosecutor request. Dashawn L. Jackson, 19, of 301 Selma Road, Rear, complicity to receiving...
More Stories