The U.S. Air Force reported it found the water in wells and groundwater at Luke Air Force Base tested positive for toxic chemicals.
The U.S. Air Force report covers Luke AFB and the Gila Bend Air Force Auxiliary Field. Testing was conducted to determine if two chemicals — perfluorooctane sulfonate and perfluorooctanoic acid — from a foam firefighting agent were evident. The foam had an usually high concentration of the two chemicals.
The base firefighters began using the foams to fight fires in 1972 and continued to use it until 2013 in fires ranging from F-15s to vehicle fires on base.
The drinking water was deemed safe at both locations, but more analyses in area surrounding Luke AFB is pending. Testing continues.
The report does not say if the chemicals made their way into public or private water wells off base. Residents are concerned.
“Shouldn’t we have been told our water may be bad for us?” asked Johnathan Gomez, who lives near the base. “I just want to know if my kids are going to get sick from our water and if it is harmful. I still can’t believe we were not told about this.”
A representative for the base, however, said numerous public notifications have been issued since testing began in early April.
Perfluorooctane sulfonate and perfluorooctanoic acid were also used in household products, including water-repellent fabrics, nonstick pans and some paints. The firefighting foam the Air Force used is highly effective.
Luke AFB representatives said they have requested permission, and will begin testing private wells in Glendale, Goodyear and unincorporated areas within the 1-mile radius of the base. If they find contamination, they would extend the radius search of the water.
Officials have said any well owners who want to test their water supply independently are asked to contact Maricopa County for assistance.
Even with the report of contamination, city officials in surrounding areas — including Goodyear, Litchfield Park, Glendale and Avondale — have told residents the water is safe.
Liberty Utilities, who supplies the Valley’s water, said it tests the water constantly for any chemicals and filters out high amounts of contaminants that are found.
In a statement, Goodyear Mayor Georgia Lord said the city has “full confidence that Luke officials will conduct a thorough analysis and the city will support the efforts. The safety of our residents is the cities No. 1 priority.”