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EPA to host meetings on toxic chemicals contaminating Colorado Springs-area aquifer

Author: Jakob Rodgers, The Gazette - August 6, 2018 - Updated: August 23, 2018

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Residents fill up jugs with drinkable water at a water station on Powers and Fontaine blvds in 2016. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)

COLORADO SPRINGS — The Environmental Protection Agency plans to host a two-day community forum this week in Colorado Springs on the toxic chemicals contaminating the aquifer beneath Security, Widefield and Fountain.

The EPA’s forum marks the third in a series of meetings across the nation aimed at helping the agency create a management plan for perfluorinated compounds — the man-made, toxic chemicals that have fouled the drinking water of millions of Americans. It will take place Tuesday and Wednesday at the Hotel Elegante, 2886 S. Circle Drive.

The forum — and the creation of the EPA’s management plan — come more than two years after the agency tightened its lifetime health advisory for two types of perfluorinated compounds, which raised fresh alarms about the chemicals and left thousands of southern El Paso County residents scrambling for bottled water.

Water officials for Security, Widefield and Fountain have since piped in clean water from elsewhere, or installed filtration systems that they say removes the chemicals to nondetectable levels.

But the chemicals remain unregulated by the EPA, and concerns about their toxicity have continued to grow with the recent release of a report by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, which showed that more types of perfluorinated compounds might be harmful, and possibly at smaller doses than the EPA has suggested.

The chemicals have been used in myriad household items, as well as in a firefighting foam used for decades at Peterson Air Force Base, and they might cause cancer, liver damage and several other health ailments.

The forum will begin at 4 p.m. Tuesday with presentations by several EPA officials, including Peter Grevatt, director of the agency’s Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water. It will continue with a listening session from 5:45 p.m. to 10 p.m., at which residents can voice their thoughts and concerns about the chemicals, and the agency’s response to them.

A working session and roundtable discussion also will be held from 9:45 a.m. to noon Wednesday, which will include public health officials, water district leaders and community groups, said Lisa McClain-Vanderpool, an EPA spokeswoman.

The public will be allowed to view and listen in on that session, she said.

For more information about the meeting, visit www.epa.gov.

Jakob Rodgers, The Gazette

Jakob Rodgers, The Gazette