Sumter man fears health issues linked to possible water contamination reported by DoD at U.S. military bases

Updated: Jan. 30, 2020 at 4:27 PM EST
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SUMTER, S.C. (WIS) - Health officials are expected to be in Sumter on Thursday answering questions about possible water contamination concerns.

This comes after a report from the Department of Defense last year which said hundreds of U.S. military bases were suspected of having water contamination.

That report from the DoD listed more than 400 U.S. military sites affected by this possible contamination, including these military bases in South Carolina: Fort Jackson, McEntire Joint National Guard Base and Shaw Air Force Base.

The contamination found at these military bases is linked to a chemical known as PFOS or PFOA, commonly found in firefighting foam used during training. The chemicals have been linked to a number of health issues.

Grant Head lives at the Crescent Mobile Home Park in Sumter, which is directly across the street from Shaw Air Force Base. Head says he’s lived there for the last five years, and has tried to practice what he considers a healthy lifestyle.

“I don’t drink sodas. I don’t drink other things. I drink water and I thought I was doing good with this well water,” Head said. “In the last two years, my health has gone down. In July I had a stroke and it caused the loss of my left eye. And when they did an MRI on me, they also showed up a tumor on my brain. And when you look up this chemical, these are the things that this chemical does to people.”

NBC News reports that the military has since launched a massive effort to clean up the contamination. But Head says he’s worried that bad water has already spilled over to the Crescent Mobile Home Park where he lives, and that he has the test results to prove it.

Not long after the initial DoD report, Head says he was contacted by a reporter asking for samples of his water. According to a recent report by the Post and Courier, tests paid for by the University of Rhode Island show water where Head lives had significant levels of PFOS/PFOA.

Head has also provided WIS with a copy of those test results.

“My concern is they have not provided us with any bottled water, fresh water, some kind of water source and most of the people here, they might not – like me, can’t afford the water, keep buying water, water,” Head said. “So, it really concerned me that they weren’t doing anything and nobody was saying a word about anything. Immediately, I would like us all here to be provided fresh water. We have children in this park. What’s going to happen to these children in the future? You’ve got to wonder.”

Just this week, a letter appeared on the Crescent Mobile Home Park property, inviting residents to speak with DHEC officials Thursday regarding, “speculation of water contamination.”

Head says, “It’s not speculation, I have the actual results. There is contamination here.”

DHEC officials say right now the EPA has no regulatory limits for this chemical, making this a national challenge. Representatives with DHEC say they’re currently finalizing a statewide strategy to address this issue this week.

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