SUMTER, S.C. (WIS) - Shaw Air Force Base will be providing bottled water to residents at the Crescent Mobile Home Park in Sumter. This latest development comes after DHEC confirmed earlier this week that water at that mobile home park tested positive for contaminants.
DHEC tested well water at the Crescent MHP twice this month, later confirming some of the water not only tested positive for the chemical known as PFAS, some levels were higher than a health advisory outlined by the Environmental Protection Agency.
PFAS has been tied to several health issues including cancer and heart disease and is also known as a “forever chemical” because there’s no way to get rid of it.
The most common forms of PFAS are known as PFOA and PFOS. These are the same chemicals the Department of Defense is blaming for possible water contamination at more than 400 U.S. military sites, likely due to the use of firefighting foam. Shaw AFB was included on that list and officials there say Shaw is likely the reason the chemical is now in drinking water at Crescent MHP, located not far from the base.
According to officials with Shaw AFB, Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF), which contains PFOS and PFOA, is the most efficient extinguishing method for petroleum-based fires and is widely used across the firefighting industry, to include all commercial airports, to protect people and property. Since August of 2016, Shaw AFB began replacing PFOS-based firefighting foam with a “new, more environmentally responsible formula.” To date, Shaw has replaced all the foam in the fire trucks and hangar fire prevention systems.
Officials with McEntire Joint National Guard and Fort Jackson – also included on the DoD’s list for possible water contamination – say they are still in the process of identifying any potential risks and whether a cleanup is necessary.
Fort Jackson representatives say firefighting foam is no longer in use and hasn’t been for the last several years.
Shaw AFB is planning to provide bottled water to Crescent MHP residents as soon as Wednesday, Feb. 5.
At this time there are no federal regulations surrounding PFAS, but the EPA advises against consuming high levels of the chemical.
The same goes for bottled water. There is no mandated testing, but the International Bottled Water Association has been testing for PFAS since last year.
Shaw AFB officials say they will continue off-base water testing and will provide alternate drinking water supplies to address any water sources with PFAS levels above the EPA’s Lifetime Health Advisory.