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Sen. Brown tells DOD to get moving on PFAS cleanup at military bases

 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.
Clarkson University
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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.

According to the CDC, PFAS, or forever chemicals are extremely difficult for organisms to break down so they stick around for a long time in water, soil and the human body. Prolonged exposure to them can have negative health effects.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown was one of 38 lawmakers who sent a letter about PFAS, or forever chemicals, at military bases to the U.S. Department of Defense this month.

Brown, D-Ohio, is asking the Pentagon to put a greater emphasis on dealing with the harmful chemicals.

Forever chemicals are extremely difficult to break down so they stick around for a long time in water, soil and the human body. Prolonged exposure can have negative health effects, according to the CDC.

They are used in a bunch of consumer products — like anti-stick pots and pans, dental floss and ski wax. At Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, they were used in firefighting foam. Now, water in and around the base is contaminated.

Congress approved close to a billion dollars to go to the Department of Defense to clean up the chemicals last year.

Brown said last week in his weekly news call that it's time for the Pentagon to get moving on using that funding. Specifically, he wants them to prioritize testing, remediation and destruction of the chemicals.

"We want to make sure that water quality around Wright-Patt and other military bases is what it should be,” Brown said. “We'll continue to push DOD hard in terms of clean up, in terms of contamination, and preventing that contamination to begin with."

The DOD has previously claimed that planning and programming deficiencies have limited its ability to address PFAS contamination.

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

Chris Welter is an Environmental Reporter at WYSO through Report for America. In 2017, he completed the radio training program at WYSO's Eichelberger Center for Community Voices. Prior to joining the team at WYSO, he did boots-on-the-ground conservation work and policy research on land-use issues in southwest Ohio as a Miller Fellow with the Tecumseh Land Trust.