Cantwell seeks money for cleanup of firefighting foams on military bases

A bill in Congress sets aside nearly $62 million to help clean up wells contaminated by military’s use of firefighting foams. Three bases in Washington state where the chemical pollution has been found could benefit.

By:  Seattle Times Staff
Source: The Seattle Times

The Air Force and Navy would receive nearly $62 million to help clean up water contamination caused by firefighting foams used on military bases in Washington state and elsewhere under a provision added last week to a Senate bill, according to Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., who sought the measure.

The money, which would be used for remediation and restoration, is included in the National Defense Authorization Act. That legislation is expected to gain Senate approval this week.

The firefighting foams contain per- and polyfluoroalkyl chemicals, which studies have linked to certain cancers, immune disorders and developmental damage, according to Cantwell.

The Defense Department has identified some 400 U.S. bases with known or suspected releases of the chemicals.

In Washington, contaminants have been detected in wells near Naval Station Whidbey Island and Fairchild Air Force Base, and at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

“People near these bases reacted with understandable alarm when these chemicals were discovered in their groundwater,” Cantwell said in a statement. “This important funding is one such solution and will move us toward clean groundwater in communities close to the affected military facilities.”