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Identify, Respond, Prevent: Malmstrom's strategy to prevent wate - KXLH.com | Helena, Montana

Identify, Respond, Prevent: Malmstrom's strategy to prevent water contamination

Posted: Jan 09, 2018 7:52 PM Updated:

A recent CBS report was about Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado, which uses a firefighting foam that contains highly prefluorinated chemicals, known as PFCs.

The foam is suspected of causing some cancers and underweight births.

A contaminant that could be found in almost any household item such as nonstick cookware, stain-resistant fabric, and even some food packaging, is causing Air Force bases across the country to run tests.

An industry-wide problem, this prefluorinated compound is a chemical found in firefighting foam used on Air Force bases since the 1970s.

Because of the reports from Colorado, MTN News has learned the steps that Malmstrom Air Force Base in Great Falls takes to keep the community safe.

“There is a contract that the Air Force Civil Engineer Center is going to every base across the Air Force to identify if there were any potential release of PFC/PFOA into the ground water," said Lt. Col. Alex Mignery, a civil engineer at Malmstrom. "That report is still outstanding."

Malmstrom is already steps ahead, however.

“The Air Force's plan is to identify, respond, and prevent," Mignery said. "We want to prevent any possible contaminants from getting into the soil and drinking water."

The base has drained the foam and replaced it with a more environmental-friendly foam, put a foam-testing procedure into all of the trucks, and are making sure that training is double-lined and insulated.

“Folks like me that live on Malmstrom are part of the community as well," Mignery said. "If there ever is any public health issue that comes from any type of Air Force mission, we will obviously get a notice out to the public as soon as possible and respond to mitigate any issues.”

Mignery said there are no indications that there are any chemicals in the drinking water not only on base, but in the surrounding community as well.

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