Effort to clean up contaminated groundwater in Washington may get federal help

By:  The Seattle Times Staff
Source: The Seattle Times

The U.S. Senate is expected to vote next week on a bill that helps pay for clean up of groundwater contamination linked to firefighting foams used at military installations, including three in Washington state.

The National Defense Authorization Act legislation, which was approved by the House on Thursday, includes $70 million in funding for the cleanup, said Senator Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., in a statement. It’s unclear how much of that amount would be allocated to Washington.

The Defense Department has identified more than 400 military installations with a known or suspected release of the chemicals, sometimes spreading into wells used for drinking water in surrounding communities. In Washington, Fairchild Air Force Base near Spokane and Naval Air Station Whidbey Island have conducted tests that showed levels of chemicals found in firefighting foam to be above federal guidelines. Elevated levels of the chemicals also were found at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, but military officials have indicated the contamination has not spread outside of the base, according to Cantwell’s statement.

“Clean drinking water is a must for every Washingtonian, and for families throughout our country,” Cantwell said. “This funding will ensure we continue to clean up groundwater in communities affected by those chemicals.”