Colorado’s U.S. Senators say more PFAS chemical cleanup is needed around El Paso County

Jake Brownell / 91.5 KRCC
The firefighting training area at Peterson Air Force Base where PFC-containing firefighting foams were regularly used between 1990 and 2015. Officials say that 20,000 gallons of contaminated water evaporated from the pit pictured here.

Colorado’s two U.S. Senators are asking the Air Force to expand a pilot program which removes PFAS chemicals from contaminated water sources in El Paso County.

PFAS are known to increase the likelihood for certain cancers and immune system problems. They're sometimes called "forever chemicals" due to how difficult it is to break them down.

The Air Force formerly used PFAS in firefighting foam for training exercises at Peterson Space Force base just outside Colorado Springs, and has been trying different pilot programs for years to try to clean PFAS contamination from the Widefield Aquifer that supplies water to “thousands of El Paso County residents,” according to a letter from the senators. 

Senators Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper sent the letter to top Air Force leaders asking those cleanup programs also be conducted at Willow Springs Pond in the town of Fountain and asking them to partner with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment for future studies.

“In particular, communication and coordination between all parties studying and working to remedy the PFAS contamination in El Paso County, Colorado is critically important,” the letter reads.  “It is critical that we use the best available science to protect the health and well-being of Coloradans and our communities.”

A recently-released federal study found elevated PFAS levels in the blood of Security-Widefield residents southeast of Colorado Springs, years after local water districts began treating drinking supplies to remove the chemicals.