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Dayton Threatens To Sue Wright-Patt As 'Last Resort' To Protect Water Supply

A fence blocks Hebble Creek at WPAFB. Hebble Creek is a tributary of the Mad River. This general area of the base has been shown through testing to be contaminated with PFAS.
Chris Welter
/
WYSO
The portion of Hebble Creek at WPAFB that crosses the public and gated sections of the base. Hebble Creek is a tributary of the Mad River. This general area of the base has been shown through testing to be contaminated with PFAS.

The City of Dayton is threatening to sue Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and the Department of Defense. They say the suit is a "last resort" to protect the city’s water supply, according to a press release.

PFAS, or per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are called forever chemicals. They stay in the environment, and in the human body, for a very long time. They have been linked to health effects like cancer and low birth weights.

The chemicals are used in firefighting foam, including in fuel fire training sessions that have been held in hangars at Wright-Patterson. The chemicals are so stable that they smother fires. Now, testing shows that there are detectable levels of PFAS at more than twenty sites across the base.

The City said those chemicals are migrating towards the well-field where the city gets a large part of its drinking water. Furthermore, they said that, so far, the base and the Department of Defense have taken no steps to mitigate or address the contamination. For its part, officials from the base told the Dayton Daily News it is moving aggressively to remediate the problem.

Environmental reporter Chris Welter is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.