Friday, May 25, 2018

Clean Water Coalition, left out of PFC summit, hits back at EPA

Posted By on Fri, May 25, 2018 at 4:54 PM

  • Fountain Valley Clean Water Coalition

The Air Force fire-fighting chemicals that contaminated Security, Widefield and Fountain water could be even more dangerous than the Environmental Protection Agency thought — and local activists are not happy with the feds’ response.

Perfluorinated chemicals, or PFCs, have contaminated water supplies near military bases around the world. Aquifers that supplied residents of Security, Widefield and Fountain were among sites affected.

The water district has taken measures to protect its residents from unsafe water, and this year’s federal budget allocated additional money for the military to install and maintain water filters to reduce the contamination or purchase water elsewhere. The water has been labeled officially safe for drinking. However, the problem could be worse than the federal government had maintained.

Politico first reported a couple of weeks ago that the EPA sought to cover up a study from the Center for Disease Control lowering the standard for acceptable levels of PFCs in drinking water by one-sixth. In 2016, the EPA reduced the acceptable level of PFCs from 400 parts per trillion to 70. The report, however, indicated that safe exposure levels could be as low as 12 ppt.

Liz Rosenbaum, the Democratic candidate for House District 21 and cofounder of the Fountain Valley Clean Water Coalition, said the report came at no surprise to her community.

“The information being put out by the water districts that the water is safe, I believe is covering up the fact that we’ve been polluted for three, four decades and our entire Windmill Gulch aquifer is destroyed,” Rosenbaum said. “And the people who knew, the companies that knew this was a cancer-causing chemical need to be held accountable for ruining our aquifer.”

The EPA drew further ire from clean-water activists when it refused to allow community representatives to attend the National Leadership Summit on Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) this week. EPA chief Scott Pruitt described the summit as a way to bring together “federal partners, several tribes, dozens of industry, non-governmental groups and other national organizations” to “share valuable recommendations for how EPA should deal with PFAS in communities and communicate the risks associated with PFAS.” However, community groups, journalists and even legislative staff were excluded from attending the summit.

Fountain Valley Clean Water Coalition and 36 other communities across the country affected by PFCs responded by posting photos online displaying statistics about their communities and reasons they felt they should have had a say. Fountain Valley’s photo showed a sign that read: “We need a seat at the table because PFAS toxins from the Air Force base are in our bodies and people are getting sick.”

The EPA recently announced it will visit communities in Michigan, New Hampshire and Colorado where PFCs have contaminated drinking water.

Rosenbaum says it’s essential that agency representatives take the time to meet with activists in the Widefield, Security and Fountain area.

“What I’m hoping happens with the EPA coming here is that they actually meet with the Fountain Valley Clean Water Coalition,” Rosenbaum said. “If they don’t access us and what we have to say, elections are coming in November, and we will have our voices heard.”

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