Residents Speak out on the Groundwater Contamination

By  | 

FAIRBANKS, Alaska - The discovery of potentially harmful chemicals in ground water, as a result of aqueous film-forming foam that's used by fire fighters, has brought the Fairbanks community together over their shared concerns.
Julia Laude visited with to residents to hear what they think about this firefighting method.

Michael Craft; Interior Resident>>"This is a fight for our kids' lives. This isn't a game."

Amanda Phipps; Fairbanks Resident>>"If we want something done about it, the people in this room now as well as other community members are going to have to take action and come together to do something about this."

Chemicals found in foam used by firefighters to put out the hottest of blazes, have residents concerned for their safety.
Local water sources that are used heavily by residents have been tested positive for these chemicals.
But to find the chemicals in water, is not as easy.

Pamela Miller; Alaska Community Action on Toxics>>"You can't taste or smell these substances so the only way that you would know is through disclosure that you're within the plume area of these contaminated sites or if you suspect you're in the plume, then you should have your water tested."

For Amanda Phipps, the concern goes beyond just herself.

Amanda Phipps; Fairbanks Resident>>"For many years I've had livestock and also gardened on property this is contaminated or could be contaminated and I want to know what kind of effects it's having on the food that I'm eating that's being directly raised from this, not only the water but also the ground."

According to Miller, the firefighting chemicals can harm both humans and animals in similar ways.

Pamela Miller; Alaska Community Action on Toxics>>"They can cause endocrine disorders. They can cause cancers such as kidney and testicular cancers in particular. They target the thyroid and because they target thyroid function, they can also cause neuro development effects especially in children which diminishes intelligence."

Michael Craft says people need to know about what is happening.
Reflecting on his family, the thought of children born in Fairbanks brought tears to his eyes.

Michael Craft; Interior Resident>>"Am I healthy enough to have a child? Am I going to have a child that's going to have some debilitating issue for the rest of their life? Is it going to be an autistic child? Is it going to be someone with mental disabilities? Is it going to be someone with physical disabilities because I've been poisoned by my community? Is this America?"

The City of Fairbanks is aware of the water contamination and is working to help residents.
The Fairbanks City Council has offered a 25-hundred dollar stipend to help residents pay water bills.
So far, 13 homes have agreed to the stipend and 44 homes impacted by the contamination, are hooked up to municipal water.
This is Julia Laude reporting.