By Debbie Gregory.
Peterson Air Force Base has confirmed that more than 150,000 gallons of water tainted with toxic chemicals were released into the Colorado Springs Utilities sewer system last week.
The release of the Air Force firefighting chemicals came from a holding tank that was designed to corral the firefighting chemicals at a Peterson training area. It was discovered during a routine inspection.
The contamination of wells in Security, Widefield and Fountain has left thousands of residents scrambling for bottled water, even though the contaminated water was not drinking water, but rather wastewater.
The chemical in the water is a perfluorinated compound, a substance that the Environmental Protection Agency warns can cause ailments including liver and kidney damage and may trigger cancer.
All the water flowing to homes supplied by the Security and Fountain water systems now comes from the Pueblo Reservoir — meaning that this spill should not affect those communities.
“The Air Force has demonstrated its commitment to identifying and addressing (perfluorinated compound) contamination at Peterson Air Force Base and facilities nationwide,” the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said.
The gaffe is the latest in a string of incidents involving PFC-contaminated water from the base. Nearby well water consumers noticed an elevated level of the chemical compound in water earlier in 2016.
Peterson Air Force Base spent $4.3 million to filter and provide drinking water to those who had been affected.
An investigation has been opened to determine the cause of the discharge, said Col. Doug Schiess, who commands Peterson’s 21st Space Wing. They are also working to ensure no future mistakes are allowed to transpire.