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Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Responds To Dayton's Lawsuit Threat

A plasma reactor is demonstrated at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, to degrade and destroy PFOS and PFOA chemicals. Electrodes emit sparks and purple light into a sample of groundwater.
Clarkson University
Clarkson University
A plasma reactor is demonstrated at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, to degrade and destroy perfluorooctane sulfonate and perfluorooctanoic acid, better known as PFOS and PFOA, in sample groundwater.

The City of Dayton is saying the city’s water supply is being threatened by contamination coming from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Last week, the city threatened to sue Wright-Patterson and the Department of Defense (DOD). The base has now responded to the pending lawsuit.

Dayton city officials said Wright-Patt and the DOD haven’t done enough to mitigate or address water contamination at the base. They said in a press release that forever chemicals known as PFAS (or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are migrating towards the well field where the city gets a large part of its drinking water.

However, the base says they are taking an aggressive approach to remediate the PFAS chemicals they’ve found. Officials from the base said in their own release that they have treated more than one billion gallons of water found to be above the federal health advisory level. They also said that next month, engineers from the Air Force plan to start sampling private wells off the base if owners wish to do so.

Wright-Patt said water sampling has taken place on the base four times every year since 2015. They said those samples show that PFAS concentrations have remained steady, and that there are no indications of higher concentrations migrating off the base.

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

Chris Welter is the Managing Editor at The Eichelberger Center for Community Voices at WYSO.

Chris got his start in radio in 2017 when he completed a six-month training at the Center for Community Voices. Most recently, he worked as a substitute host and the Environment Reporter at WYSO.