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Airway Heights Homeowner Sues Air Force Over Well Contamination

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Photo courtesy of Steve Johnson via Flickr

At least one private homeowner has filed a suit against the Air Force after chemicals believed to have come from firefighting foam showed up their well in Airway Heights.

Airway Heights officials say they hope to have the chemicals flushed out of the water system, but it may take as long as ten more days. That, after the city manager said earlier this week he expected the job to take 28 hours. In the meantime, the water supply will not take in water from 4 wells shown to have concentrations of the chemicals.

The community is getting some water from the Spokane aquifer to make up the difference.

The chemicals were used in firefighting foam used by the Air Force for decades, before being phased out in 2016. Now at least one private well owner has filed suit against Fairchild Air Force base for contamination in her own well.

Spokane Attorney Andrew Biviano represents Millwee Holler-Kanaga. Biviano said, “They have been using this chemical in their firefighting efforts for years. So basically everyone discovered it’s not a recent problem and they have been ingesting it for decades. So there is a large concern with what they have been suffering thus far, and what health effects they may be suffering for the rest of their lives as a result of this.”

A number of studies have linked the chemical to a variety of ailments in laboratory animals, including damaged organs, and an EPA finding that the chemicals are carcinogenic to humans.

The EPA had caused for a phase-out of the chemical 16 years ago.

Lab tests have shown concentrations above 70 parts per trillion in at least 25 wells in Airway Heights.

Steve was part of the Spokane Public Radio family for many years before he came on air in 1999. His wife, Laurie, produced Radio Ethiopia in the late 1980s through the '90s, and Steve used to “lurk in the shadowy world” of Weekend SPR. Steve has done various on air shifts at the station, including nearly 15 years as the local Morning Edition host. Currently, he is the voice of local weather and news during All Things Considerd, writing, editing, producing and/or delivering newscasts and features for both KPBX and KSFC. Aside from SPR, Steve ,who lives in the country, enjoys gardening, chickens, playing and listening to music, astronomy, photography, sports cars and camping.