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Well contamination near Dover prompts request for Air Force brass visit

DOVER, Del. — Delaware’s congressional delegation is asking the secretary of the Air Force to visit Dover Air Force Base to address concerns about elevated levels of chemical contaminants in wells near the military installation.

State environmental regulators were recently notified by base officials that two more wells near the base may have levels of perfluorooctane sulfonate, or PFOS, and perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA, above federal advisory levels of 70 parts per trillion.

The notifications come after high levels of PFOS and PFOA were found in four other wells near the base last summer.

Delaware’s congressional members said in a letter to Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett on Monday that the two recent discoveries underscore the importance of Barrett or another senior Air Force official visiting Dover and briefing local residents and state officials.

The Delaware delegation had sent a similar letter in July after test results indicated contaminants in water wells near the base.

One of those wells had a PFOS level of 168,000 parts per trillion and a PFOA level of 2,460 parts per trillion, according to a document provided to The Associated Press. The Air Force is continuing to provide alternative water supply to those properties.

The owners of the more recently tested wells, which provide water to a single commercial business, also are being provided bottled water.

PFOA and PFOS are among a class of man-made compounds known as perfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS. The compounds have been used in a variety of consumer and industrial products, including nonstick cookware, stain- and water-resistant fabrics, food packaging and, notably, firefighting foam that has been used at military bases across the country.

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