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Delaware Congressional delegation writes to Air Force for action on contaminated Dover wells

Delaware Public Media

Delaware’s Congressional Delegation is trying to get Air Force leadership to visit its base in Dover to address the contamination of neighboring wells with per – and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

Sens. Tom Carper and Chris Coons (D-Delaware) and Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Delaware) sent a letterto Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett this week requesting a site visit to Dover Air Force Base. The letter is a follow up to a similar request last summer. 

“Part of this is to advocate for our communities but also to advocate for Dover Air Force Base—that they get the attention and the we get the attention and resources that we need to be able to really address this,” said Blunt Rochester, who is a member of the House Energy and Commerce Environment and Climate Change Subcommittee        

The first letter from the Delaware politicians was sent after four Dover wells servicing five businesses, two residences and one office building tested 2,400 times above a federal health advisory last summer. This came as a result of years of using firefighting foam on the base which contained the chemicals and seeped into the groundwater. 

The most recent letter was sent in response to preliminary tests last month showing two more wells with high PFAS levels. 

Sen. Carper commends the response from the base to give bottled water and filtration systems to affected homes and businesses, but says the federal government should pay to hook the affected sites up to municipal water. 

“In a golden rule kind of world, where you treat other people the way we want to be treated, I don’t think the federal government should stick the cost of clean drinking water on the families who did nothing to deserve this,” said Carper, who sits on the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee.        

A spokesperson from the base recently told Delaware Public Media plans to hook the affected sites up to municipal water is taking longer than expected as the project will require extending a water main pipeline.

The Air Force has been responding to contamination of drinking water supplies at Dover Air Force Base with PFOS and PFOA since 2014.  In 2016, the Department of Defense found levels of the chemicals in the groundwater there up to 2.8 million parts per trillion—40,000 times higher than the EPA health advisory level.

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