Military pushed on replacement for toxic firefighting foam

Chemicals used can contaminate drinking water
177th Fighter Wing firefighter training
Posted at 9:19 AM, Sep 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-23 09:20:26-04

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Lawmakers are pushing military leaders to act on replacing perfluorinated chemicals used in firefighting foam that have been found to contaminate ground drinking water.

The chemicals, known as PFAS, are used in aqueous film forming foam. That foam is considered very effective in fighting aircraft fuel fires.

In 2016, the chemicals were found in the groundwater around Fentress Field in Chesapeake.

Hundreds of other military sites and surrounding communities may also be contaminated with PFAS.

The House Armed Services Committee's Readiness Subcommittee held a hearing on cleanup and replacement efforts last week.

Right now, the use of aqueous film forming foam is being limited by the Department of Defense to emergency events, and is no longer being used for testing and training.

The military is also treating the use of the foam as a chemical spill response.

Research is underway across the Defense Department for developing PFAS-free foams, but so far none of the commercially available PFAS-free foams meet military standards for putting out fires quickly.