Friday, October 28, 2016

A Thruway worker died after he was hit by an SUV on the Thruway in Herkimer County while helping recover a vehicle

Syracuse-area Thruway worker killed when SUV crashes into tow trucks on highway
By Ken Sturtz |
  on October 28, 2016 at 3:58 PM, updated October 28, 2016 at 4:10 PM

DANUBE, N.Y. -- A Thruway worker died Friday after he was hit by an SUV on the Thruway in Herkimer County while helping recover a vehicle, the New York State Police said.

The accident occurred at 8:15 a.m. on Interstate 90 east in the town of Danube, between the Herkimer (Exit 30) and Little Falls (Exit 29A) exits.

Two tow trucks accompanied by a Thruway maintenance truck were on the shoulder of the highway removing a vehicle from a previous accident.

State police said a Ford Escape going east sideswiped one of the tow trucks and hit Thruway worker Ronald C. Deming. The Escape became airborne after hitting the other tow truck and then ended up in the center median.

Deming, 58, of Little Falls, was pronounced dead at the scene by the Herkimer County coroner, state police said.

The driver of the Escape, Matthew Jarvinen, 31, and his passenger, Danielle L. Holmes, 31, both of Maine, suffered minor injuries. They were taken to the hospital. The drivers of the two tow trucks were not injured.

State police said troopers with the Collision Reconstruction Unit was continuing to investigate the crash.

Deming was a construction equipment heavy operator who worked out of the Syracuse division of the Thruway. He had worked for the Thruway Authority for more than 20 years.


Syracuse-area Thruway worker killed while helping motorist
By Samantha House |
on October 28, 2016 at 12:11 PM, updated October 28, 2016 at 2:11 PM

DANUBE, N.Y. -- A Syracuse-area Thruway worker was killed early this morning as he helped recover a passenger car along the highway in Herkimer County, officials said.

Ronald C. Deming, 58, a construction equipment heavy operator who worked out of the Syracuse division of the Thruway, was killed in a crash on Interstate 90 east, the Thruway Authority said. He had worked for the Thruway for more than 20 years.

"Day in and day out, our maintenance crews are on our roadway to ensure the safety of motorists and Ron's death deeply touches us all," said Thruway executive director Bill Finch. "The entire Thruway family mourns his loss and will keep his wife Sally and his daughters Leah and Nicole in our thoughts and prayers during this tremendously difficult time."

The accident happened around 8:15 a.m. Friday on Interstate 90 East in Danube between the Herkimer (Exit 30) and Little Falls (Exit 29A) exits, said the New York State Police.

Investigators remain on scene. State Police said more information will be released when it becomes available, troopers said.

The right lane of I-90 east was blocked near the accident scene, reported the Thruway Authority. Traffic was moving slowly.

6,400 gallons of oil spill in Fort Collins, Colorado at at a crude oil processing facility operated by Prospect Energy

6,400 gallons of oil spill in Fort Collins, Colorado at

at a crude oil processing facility operated by Prospect Energy

  Jason Pohl and Jacy Marmaduke , Coloradoan 

6:14 p.m. MDT October 28, 2016

(Photo: Austin Humphreys/The Coloradoan)

Crews from local, state and federal agencies responded to north Fort Collins Friday for an oil spill estimated at 150 barrels (
6,400 gallons), the largest oil spill on record in Larimer County.

Poudre Fire Authority crews were notified of the spill Friday morning at a crude oil processing facility operated by Prospect Energy at 1229 E. Larimer County Road 54, also known as Douglas Road, in the far northern reaches of Fort Collins.

A pipe valve on a tank battery used to store crude oil failed, releasing approximately 150 barrels of oil — roughly 6,500 gallons — onto the ground sometime Thursday, said Madeline Noblett, PFA spokeswoman.

The valve was replaced Thursday, which stopped the spill. It was not immediately clear why there was a delay between the start of the spill and it being reported to local emergency response agencies.

"It is not believed there is an imminent risk to public health," Noblett said Friday, adding that evacuation of nearby homes was not required as air quality did not appear to have been compromised. "Crews are still determining the magnitude of the spill."

Water quality engineers with Fort Collins stressed that drinking water in the area was safe. Responders also said the potential was "very remote" the spill could impact wildlife or other water sources in the area — drinking water in Fort Collins comes from the Poudre River and Horsetooth Reservoir. Most of the oil was concentrated on the top soil, and oil was contained to the spill site.

Oil is piped into the facility from nearby wells.

PFA was on scene along with the Fort Collins Office of Emergency Management, Larimer County Office of Emergency Management, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Larimer County Department of Health and Environment, and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Prospect Energy is the former owner of the Fort Collins Field north of the city. The company has filed incident reports for 11 other spills in Larimer County since 2011, but this spill is the largest by far. It is also the largest oil spill on record in Larimer County, according to Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission data.

The spill happened just north of the Hearthfire subdivision, where a cluster of wells comprise the bulk of oil and gas exploration within city limits.

The last large-scale oil spill in the Fort Collins area was in 2014, when a Noble Energy storage tank damaged by flooding release 7,500 gallons of crude oil into the Poudre River in Windsor. That spill occurred in Weld County.

A sinkhole swallowed three vehicles in a parking lot in Bethpage in Long Island

OCTOBER 28, 2016

BETHPAGE, Long Island (WABC) -- A large sinkhole opened up in a parking lot on Long Island on Friday afternoon.

It happened in Bethpage right off of Hicksville Road.

The sinkhole swallowed three vehicles.

The front half of the vehicle caught in the very middle was almost fully underground thanks to the massive hole.

Fortunately, no one was hurt.

The Air Force ignored decades of warnings from its own researchers in continuing to use a chemical-laden firefighting foam that is a leading cause of contaminated drinking water for at least 6 million Americans

TOXIC LEGACY: Air Force studies dating back decades show danger of foam that contaminated Colorado Springs-area water

October 27, 2016

The Air Force ignored decades of warnings from its own researchers in continuing to use a chemical-laden firefighting foam that is a leading cause of contaminated drinking water for at least 6 million Americans, including thousands of people south of Colorado Springs.

Multiple studies dating back to the 1970s found health risks from the foam, and even an agreement 16 years ago between the Environmental Protection Agency and the foam’s main manufacturer to stop making the substance did not curtail the Air Force’s usage. Until drinking water tests announced by health officials this year revealed contaminated wells here, the Air Force did almost nothing to publicly acknowledge the danger of the firefighting chemical.

That contamination sent residents across southern El Paso County scrambling to buy bottled water and to test their blood for the toxic chemical, which, when ingested, can remain in the body for decades.


Timeline – History of contamination by the U.S. military

The Gazette’s investigation into the military’s research of perfluorinated compounds, the intensely powerful chemical in the foam, found:

– Studies by the Air Force as far back as 1979 demonstrated the chemical was harmful to laboratory animals, causing liver damage, cellular damage and low birth weight of offspring.

– The Army Corps of Engineers, considered the military’s leading environmental agency, told Fort Carson to stop using the foam in 1991 and in 1997 told soldiers to treat it as a hazardous material, calling it “harmful to the environment.”

– The EPA called for a phaseout of the chemical 16 years ago and 10 years ago found the chemical in the foam “likely to be carcinogenic to humans.”

The tank that resulted in the unplanned water discharge from a Peterson fire training area during a press conference outside the Peterson Air Force Base on Tuesday, October 18, 2016. About 150,000 gallons of water being held in a fire training area retention tank was discharged into the CSU sewer system last week. The tank held water that contained an elevated level of perfluorinated compounds, a residual component of a firefighting foam historically used at the base for emergency response. Peterson authorities discovered the discharge during a routine tank inspection on October 12. The tank is part of a system used to recirculate water to the fire training area. Photo by Stacie Scott, The Gazette

Despite the warnings, the Air Force still uses the chemical in Colorado Springs, with at least 600 gallons of the firefighting chemical at Peterson Air Force Base. While that might not sound like much, it is mixed as a 3 percent solution with water. At that ratio, 600 gallons of chemical would combine with about 20,000 gallons of water to make 80 tons of fire suppressant.

The service plans to phase out the chemical in its firetrucks in coming weeks, but the Air Force still hasn’t determined when it will remove the chemical from firefighting foam systems at Peterson’s hangars.

The urgency of the issue came clearly into focus last week when Peterson Air Force Base announced the release of an additional 150,000 gallons of water polluted with the chemical into the Colorado Springs sewage system and from there into Fountain Creek.

After acknowledging the spill, Peterson officials said they weren’t required by law to notify downstream users of the water in the contaminant’s path.

“At this point, this is a nonregulated substance,” Peterson environmental chief Fred Brooks said.


1983 Air Force study on contaminant

Colorado Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner said he’s upset that the Air Force apparently knew the hazards of its firefighting foam but kept spraying it in Colorado Springs above the shallow Widefield aquifer.

“It is alarming that a substance was used that people knew then was a dangerous substance,” Gardner told The Gazette.

The Air Force says some of its early studies were flawed but hasn’t explained its apparent lack of reaction to the piles of later studies finding the foam toxic.

U.S. Air Force firefighters from the 7th Civil Engineer Squadron participate in live fire training exercise April 2, 2014, at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas. Teams from the Dyess Fire Department and Abilene Regional Airport Fire Department demonstrated various hose and firefighting procedures while engaging the controlled blaze. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kia Atkins/Released)

Air Force Undersecretary Miranda Ballentine highlighted the Air Force’s $24 million effort to deliver clean water to the Pikes Peak region and elsewhere and defended the toxic foam as the “only fire-fighting product that met military specifications used to protect people and property from aviation fuel-based fires.

“The Air Force takes ownership of the possible negative impacts of our fire-fighting mission, and where we are responsible we will do the right thing to protect people and the environment,” she wrote in an email to The Gazette.

But even as the Air Force spends millions of dollars to filter water from the fouled aquifer below Security, Widefield and Fountain, the problem could last for generations.

Dr. Paul Brooks of West Virginia led a study on the impacts of perflourinated compounds on 69,000 people. (West Virginia University photo)

“The problem is that people now have a sense of false security – they think if it’s out of the water, then you’re out of danger,” said Dr. Paul Brooks, a West Virginia physician who led a study of the effects of such chemicals on 69,000 people. “The problem is that people who were contaminated built it up.”

The firefighting chemical sticks in the human body like few others. Its half-life, the time it takes the body to part with half of the chemical in the blood, is 5.4 years – 60 times that of lead.

EPA-mandated testing found at least 6 million Americans are dealing with water contaminated by the firefighting chemical and similar compounds – with many of them drinking from wells that likely were fouled by the Air Force, other military services or manufacturing sites.

Studies show that such chemicals can slowly kill. They can cause immune system and liver damage and have been linked to cancers, especially of the kidneys and testicles. Fetal development problems and low birth weight are a concern. And at a minimum, the firefighting foam can cause high cholesterol, a precursor to heart disease.

Exactly how the foam’s chemical harms people remains unclear, though scientists have strong theories. Researchers generally agree the chemical doesn’t directly damage human genetic material. Rather, it has largely been shown to suppress the immune system – allowing disease and ailments to surface over time.


Army study on firefighting foam and possible link to autism

Each person’s risk is based on myriad factors, including one’s genetic makeup, lifestyle, gender and the length of exposure to the chemical.

“It just tells us that it’s not possible under our current testing guidelines to fully capture every potential toxicological effect that could occur from exposure to a synthetic compound,” said Jamie DeWitt, associate professor of pharmacology and toxicology at the University of East Carolina’s Brody School of Medicine.

“I think it’s important that the people who are getting exposed understand that these exposure levels are based on probabilities,” DeWitt said. “So exposure does not equal toxicity – it equals probability of toxicity at a sustained exposure.”

‘We bathed in it’

While the Air Force has offered $4.3 million to help filter water in the Security, Widefield and Fountain areas, it claims that serious concerns first arose in 2009 – 30 years after its first known studies into the toxic effects of the chemical and 16 years after the EPA and the chemical’s largest manufacturer, 3M, issued a strong warning. By that time, such man-made chemicals had been found on every continent.

“3M data supplied to EPA indicated that these chemicals are very persistent in the environment, have a strong tendency to accumulate in human and animal tissues and could potentially pose a risk to human health and the environment over the long term,” the EPA said in a 2000 news release.

The EPA has yet to ban the chemical. The Air Force says it will remain in use through the end of the year. The military and the Department of Veterans Affairs said they have no plans to study the effects of the firefighting chemical on airmen and other troops who may have used it.

“The Air Force’s goal is to ensure that any health condition sustained by our Airmen pursuant to the support of an Air Force mission is properly cared for and compensated,” the service’s surgeon general said in a statement responding to Gazette questions. “We encourage our airmen and veterans to seek care for any health condition they believe is connected to chemical exposure during service.”

Former Air Force firefighter Jeff Warrick of Delaware said he used the foam for years with no warning of its risks.

The 92nd Civil Engineer Squadron conducts a foam suppression system test in hangar one Oct. 1, 2015, at Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash. The foam is known as Ansul High Expansion Concentrate, when mixed with water the solution becomes 2 percent foam and 98 percent water. The system has a capacity to fill one entire hangar with approximately 20 feet of foam. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Mackenzie Richardson)

During training exercises, his bunker gear was soaked in the foam.

“We bathed in it,” he said.

Now he worries the foam that was so effective in extinguishing burning fuel could be connected to a tumor he had on his genitals and other health conditions. Doctors have few answers for him, he said.

“Oh, yeah, it does the job,” Warrick said. “We just didn’t realize what it might be doing to us.”

‘I do feel like a lab rat’

Studies show the first laboratory rats died from exposure to a perfluorinated compound in the 1960s.

More studies have found rats in the experiments had pups with low birth weights. Some rats suffered liver and kidney damage. Some contracted cancers.

According to Air Force documents obtained by The Gazette, a study by the service’s research laboratory in 1979 linked the chemical to damaged “thymus, bone marrow, stomach, mesentery, liver, and testes in the male rats.”

The service ordered a study published in 1981 that found the chemical could cause damage to female rats and their offspring, including low birth weight.

Bridgette Swaney holds one of her pet rats at her Widefield home Thursday, Oct. 6, 2016. High levels of perfluorinated compounds, believed to be from a firefighting foam used at Peterson Air Force Base, have been found in the water systems of Security, Widefield and Fountain, forcing residents to drink bottled water. Swaney said her rats in the past have developed large tumors, a sign found in labatory rats exposed to the chemicals. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)

In the second study, pregnant female lab rats died when exposed to high doses of the chemical. The researchers wrote that the 1979 study confirmed exposure danger for male airmen, “but did not depict the potential hazard in Air Force women,” necessitating the follow-up.

That study also says the Air Force was a leader in studying the toxicity of firefighting foam, with the only literature on the subject coming from the service’s laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio.

More Air Force studies came after that, with several in the 1980s and 1990s.

Despite alarming findings, the service kept using it, leading it to seep into drinking water in Colorado and around the globe.

In response to Gazette questions about its studies, an Air Force spokeswoman questioned the validity of the service’s own scientific work in the 1981 study of the foam.

“We were able to do an initial review of the report you provided and determined that specific chemical was never used in our Aviation Fire Fighting Foam and was only used for the purpose of that study,” spokeswoman Laura M. McAndrews wrote.

The study, though, says the chemical tested was a perfluorinated acid that Air Force scientists called “structurally related to a surfactant agent used in fire retardant foams by the Air Force.”

Some firefighters who used the foam are angered by all the science they weren’t told about.

“I do feel like a lab rat,” admitted former Peterson Air Force Base Fire Chief Steve Kjonaas, who used the foam frequently during a 28-year Air Force career that was cut short by prostate cancer in 2007. He worries that his condition was caused by exposure to the foam’s active ingredient – perfluorooctane sulfonate.

Bridgette Swaney wonders if the Air Force’s science experiments of 1979 and 1981 played out in her own house more than 30 years later.

Over the past year, Swaney has raised rats in her split-level home off Southmoor Drive in Widefield’s water district, feeding them tap water now known to be laced with the firefighting foam chemical. Several of the black and white rodents grew massive tumors, even as pups. Swaney, 31, also has faced ailments since moving to Widefield six years ago, including high cholesterol and worsening thyroid issues – two possible symptoms of firefighting foam exposure.

If the Air Force knew perfluorinated compounds could harm rats at least 37 years ago, then the Air Force should pay, Swaney said.

“It’s really frustrating – it really, really is,” Swaney said. “It’s frustrating to know that my 4-year-old has drank this water her entire life. I drank the water the entire time I was pregnant. We’re just expected to accept it.”

A different view

The Air Force’s view of the chemical’s history is different.

The Air Force’s top expert on the toxic chemical said the military didn’t really understand the danger of such chemicals, also known as PFCs, until 2009.

“So in 2009, taking this through 2009, EPA then issued a provisional health advisory for PFCs. And I think this is a real key point here is that’s when they issued that provisional health advisory,” explained Daniel Medina, a civilian at the Air Force’s Civil Engineer Center in San Antonio.

While the Air Force studied the firefighting foam’s toxicity, Medina said, the service would not change its chemical policies without direction from the EPA.

“Right, so again that’s where we’d look at the regulations that EPA and in this case the health advisories put out there to look to defer to that,” he said.

The toxic chemical in the firefighting foam and its sister chemical, a key ingredient in Teflon, were born out of the chemistry revolution after World War II.

The firefighting foam is a Vietnam-era military invention patented by the Navy’s Naval Research Laboratory as an alternative for battling aircraft fires aboard carriers.

The foam is credited with saving thousands of lives from shipboard and fuel fires. It seems almost miraculous for stopping burning fuel, forming a Jello- like barrier between the flames and the fuel that quickly stops the blaze.

“What it does is it helps you against flammable liquid fires,” explained the Air Force’s fire chief, James E. Podolske Jr.

Days after Podolske was presented to The Gazette as a spokesman on the issue, he was indicted on charges brought by the Justice Department for procurement fraud, alleging he “knowingly disclosed defense department contract bid or proposal information to give a competitive advantage to a corporate defense contractor.” He was also accused of pocketing $133,000 in donations related to a charity golf tournament, the Justice Department said in a news release.

“Sometimes you may spray the foam and eliminate the potential for ignition from vapors; it’ll keep from reignition, even if firefighters walk through it, because it forms that vapor barrier back over it,” Podolske said in his interview with The Gazette.

Once the foam gets into the environment, though, it’s not going away.

Chris Higgins a scientist at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden stands in the laboratory where he studies perfluorinated compounds. (Colorado School of Mines photo)

Like fuel, the chemical’s backbone is a long string of carbon atoms – eight of them. Attached to those carbons is fluoride, forming a remarkably stable concoction using one of the strongest chemical bonds known to science. Perfluorinated compounds in the environment could outlast the sun before breaking down in a time frame normally precise scientists like Colorado School of Mines chemist Christopher Higgins can only describe as “geologic.”

Concerns about the firefighting foam were serious enough that a 1991 environmental assessment of Fort Carson by the Army Corps of Engineers concluded, “Firefighting operations that use (the foam) must be replaced with nonhazardous substitutes.”

In June, Gardner sent a letter to Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James asking the Air Force to publicly release all information it possessed on contamination in the Pikes Peak region. The senator, though, hadn’t been made aware of the repeated Air Force studies into the health risks of the foam.

“We have to have the measures taken to assure public safety,” Gardner told The Gazette. “We need the commitment of the Air Force to do a full reckoning of the documents you have cited.

“This isn’t something that can be swept under the rug,” Gardner said. “It has to be met with the full faith and credit of the United States.”

Routine use of foam for years

Even as the Air Force studied the risks of its firefighting foam, firefighters at Peterson Air Force Base sprayed the foam over and over onto the ground as practice for putting out airplane fires.

Using two unlined pits, firefighters dumped pools of jet fuel on the ground and lit it – simulating the perils of an airplane crash. The flames were extinguished by coating the pond in foam, said Kjonaas, the former base fire chief.

The practice at those pits continued until the early 1990s, when the Air Force completed a lined pit for those exercises, sending the remnants into the base’s sewer system. Scientists say a sewer system, though, is unlikely to remove the toxic firefighting chemical from water.

A small sea of fire retardant foam was unintentionally released in an aircraft hangar, temporarily covering a small portion of the flight line at Travis AFB, Calif., Sept. 24, 2013. The non-hazardous foam is similar to dish soap, which eventually dissolved into liquid, which was helped by high winds. 60th Air Mobility Wing fire fighters helped control the dispersion by using powerful fans and covering drains. No people or aircraft were harmed in the incident. (U.S. Air Force photo/Ken Wright/Released)

The foam was used routinely until 1999, when a propane-and-water system was installed.

The exact number of times the training was conducted at Peterson has not been released. Kjonaas said training was routine at Peterson during his time as chief, which ended in 2007, with foam being used as often as quarterly.

Until last year, the Air Force also put a small amount of foam on the ground for a daily check to make sure the foam system on fire trucks worked properly, said Podolske, the Air Force’s top firefighter.

“Spray testing at Fire Station No. 1 is done on the concrete ramp during good weather and at the volleyball court during inclement weather,” a report on contamination at Peterson says.

That daily testing has stopped.

“Because of the environmental concerns and the health hazard concerns right now while we were working this, we put out a cease and desist,” Podolske said.

One of the largest known local uses of the foam in recent years came on Dec. 23, 2010, when a single-engine plane crashed just north of a Peterson runway, killing the pilot and his passenger. A report on contamination at Peterson says “at least 100 gallons” of firefighting foam was sprayed to extinguish the wreckage.

Last week, Peterson acknowledged additional recent discharges of the foam, including a 2013 training exercise and two leaks from firetrucks this year.

On Tuesday, Brooks, the environmental officer, said that someone had turned two valves and operated an electric switch to send 150,000 gallons of foam-contaminated water – the equivalent of more than 16 gasoline tankers – into the Colorado Springs Utilities’ sewer system. The base had not sampled the wastewater to determine the level of its contamination.

Asked whether the release could have been intentional, Brooks said, “That’s an option.”

The incident, which remains under investigation, was discovered by the Air Force on Oct. 12 and announced to the public six days later.

Utilities spokesman Steve Berry said the utility’s sewage treatment plant can’t remove perfluorinated compounds, so the chemical was discharged into Fountain Creek.

Asked what he would do to clean up the new release, Peterson’s Brooks said there was little he could do because the chemical had left his base.

Pattern of contamination found

Industry has found plenty of uses for the same sturdy chemical in firefighting foam as well as similarly structured compounds. Most commonly, they’ve been used to treat carpets as a stain fighter. They were also used in nonstick cookware and at one time were used in food wrappers.

Those manufacturers harbored concerns about such chemicals decades ago.

DuPont issued an internal memo raising health concerns in the early 1960s, according to a Harvard University report. A study in the 1970s on the chemical’s effects on monkeys’ immune systems went unpublished, though other studies in the 1980s and 1990s deepened health concerns, the Harvard report said.

But the firefighting foam, so commonly sprayed on the ground in large quantities, is “likely the most important way in which we have contaminated water supplies around the globe with fluorochemicals,” said Higgins, the School of Mines chemist.

A recent study by Higgins and other researchers found that one of the greatest predictors of contaminated water systems in the U.S. is their proximity to a military firefighting training area that used the foam, along with manufacturing sites and wastewater treatment plants.

The Air Force is studying an estimated 2,800 fire training areas and other places the foam was sprayed at present and past installations around the world. That includes a half-dozen sites at Peterson Air Force Base and the Colorado Springs Airport.

Results of the Colorado Springs study are not due until March.

Near Fairchild Air Force Base outside Spokane, Wash., researchers found how the firefighting foam chemical is passed through the ecosystem, with each species accumulating more of the toxin as it moves up the food chain.

The study, by the Washington State Department of Ecology, focused on ospreys, the predatory birds that rule lakes and rivers around the Spokane base.

“The osprey come back in the spring, and they just eat a ton of fish,” said Callie Mathieu, a research coordinator for the agency.

The fish swim in Medical Lake, near the base, where a sewage outflow has pumped the firefighting chemical. Ospreys pick up more of the chemical with each fish they consume.

“When they lay their eggs a month later, they pass on that contaminate burden to their eggs,” Mathieu said.

Residents fill up jugs with drinkable water at a water station on Powers and Fontaine blvds on Thursday, Oct. 6, 2016. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)

The concept is the same for humans. When the EPA issued its latest advisory in May, Colorado health officials said women who are pregnant or breastfeeding or bottle-feeding infants may want to avoid their water. That’s largely because infants are the most susceptible to the dangers such chemicals pose. The threat includes miscarriage and low birth weight, a key factor in infant mortality.

That EPA advisory warned that water could be harmful if such chemicals surpassed more than 70 parts per trillion – significantly lower than an advisory issued in 2009. Speaking again to the power of the foam, the 3 percent chemical with 97 percent water solution used to fight fires is 300,000 parts per trillion. A tablespoon of the chemical in 20 Olympic-sized pools would easily exceed the EPA threshold.

Contamination in wells in the Security, Widefield and Fountain areas ranged from just a couple of parts per trillion to 2,000 parts per trillion, nearly 30 times the EPA’s advisory level, tests this year showed. The average reading of 108 groundwater test sites was 164 parts per trillion, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, more than two times the EPA’s health advisory level. The median for those groundwater tests was about 115 parts per trillion.

Philippe Grandjean, who teaches at Harvard and the University of Southern Denmark, isn’t satisfied with current limits. He wants the EPA to further limit exposure to an infinitesimal level – 1 part per trillion, because such chemicals stay in the body for years.

“These compounds are much more toxic than we thought,” Grandjean said.

‘A lot of unanswered questions’

The military has yet to face any lawsuits stemming from its use of the chemical in Colorado. For the most part, federal agencies are immune from liability.

Some local politicians have praised the military for its actions to clean Pikes Peak region drinking water while refusing to comment on how the water got contaminated.

“The Air Force is going above and beyond in their willingness to be a good community partner and neighbor with their multi-million dollar response commitment to this particular issue,” Colorado Springs Republican U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said in a statement. “The money and time they are investing will go a long way toward addressing the needs of the citizens of our region.”

Several firefighting foam manufacturers and other companies making perfluorinated compounds have been sued.

Manufacturers of certain perfluorinated compounds have faced lawsuits since at least the late 1990s, and a landmark settlement in one case led to Dr. Brooks’ research project that collected blood samples from 69,000 people in the mid-Ohio Valley, a region east of Cincinnati centered on Parkersburg, W.Va.

Brooks said the study revealed many health problems, especially high cholesterol stemming from such chemicals. Worse, he said, the health impacts can last a lifetime because the human body can’t get rid of them.

Volunteers, left to right, Rosemary Calderaro, Michelle Betsayda and Jennifer Allen with Care and Share Food Bank for Southern Colorado helped give away bottled water Friday, July 1, 216, at St. Dominic Catholic Church. The food bank is giving away the water after chemical know as perflourinated compounds were found in Security, Widefield and Fountain water supplies at levels the EPA considers unsafe. The giveaway will be held each Friday in July from 10am-noon. Photo by Mark Reis, The Gazette

Two federal lawsuits seeking class-action status for Security, Widefield and Fountain residents have been filed against 3M and several other companies that made the foam and supplied it to Peterson Air Force Base. They seek money for local medical studies and damages.

A spokesman for the law firm representing 3M, which phased out production of the chemical in 2002, said last month that the company will “vigorously” defend itself against the lawsuits, just as it has in the past.

The chemical that 3M included in its foam is similar – though slightly different – from what DuPont made. The EPA, however, lumped them together in its May advisory, citing similarities and health concerns about each.

A resolution to the lawsuits might take years.

For now, the people receiving contaminated water in their kitchen taps have been left with the tab.

Swaney, whose rats developed tumors, estimates having spent about $30 a month on bottled water for her family. But her pets still use the toxic water.

“It’s hard – it’s hard, especially when you have pets,” Swaney said. “I do love my dog. But can I afford to spend the money to make sure my dog drinks bottled water? Not so much.”

Samantha Beckner, 37, said she spends $30 to $40 a week on bottled water, which she stuffs into her children’s backpacks each day for school.

The worst part is grappling with the uncertainty their tap water brings.

She recently underwent a scan to determine if she had the first stages of breast cancer. The test came back as benign. Her family is often sick with cold and flu-like symptoms.

Did the water cause it? She can’t say for sure.

“We have never been as sick as we have been since we have lived in that house,” Beckner said.

The one certain effect from the contaminated water will be higher water bills for many residents in 2017, water district managers say.

Combined, Security, Widefield and Fountain water officials have spent millions of dollars purchasing additional, cleaner water from other agencies or to widen their existing pipes and install new ones that bring in contaminant-free water from the Pueblo Reservoir or both.

Permanently disconnecting from the Widefield aquifer is infeasible, water district leaders say, because too little water exists elsewhere to meet demand without skyrocketing costs. As a result, the water district might build new treatment plants to filter the chemicals from their well water.

Those projects, however, typically cost millions of dollars and take years to complete.

Tedy Stockwell, 61, is furious she has been left to pay for a problem someone else created.

She moved to Widefield after the Black Forest fire in 2013 to improve her family’s health. Her house survived that blaze, but her children had trouble breathing from the smoke damage.

She and her husband have since had cholesterol issues, and she plans to visit the doctor to find out whether the water had anything to do with it.

“There’s just a lot of unanswered questions,” Stockwell said.

Little has been left unaffected, Stockwell said. She invested in a garden, complete with special soil, seeds and fertilizers. She now questions whether she should grow anything in that soil and whether the water she used on it turned her vegetables toxic.

She paid nearly $100 last month for bottled water and $65 for her tainted tap water.

And knowing the chemical is still being used is “ridiculous,” she said. “There has to be a stopping point.”

But long after the Air Force follows through with its plan to destroy its remaining stocks of firefighting foam, a toxic legacy will remain for those who drank water from contaminated wells, Dr. Brooks said.

“If you are 60 years old, you can’t live long enough to get down to a level that it is not going to bother you.”

FBI reopens Clinton email investigation after new e-mail messages found in devices seized during former Rep. Anthony Weiner’s sexting scandal

FBI reopens Clinton email investigation after new messages found

Published October 28, 2016


FBI reopens investigation into Hillary Clinton's email use

The FBI has reopened its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server while secretary of state after discovering new emails, in a stunning turn of events just days before the presidential election.

FBI Director James Comey wrote in a letter to top members of Congress Friday that the bureau has “learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation.”

Comey did not detail those emails, saying only that they surfaced “in connection with an unrelated case.”

An FBI source, though, confirmed to Fox News that the new emails were discovered during the probe of former Rep. Anthony Weiner’s sexting.

Comey told lawmakers in the letter the investigative team briefed him on the information a day earlier, “and I agreed that the FBI should take appropriate investigative steps designed to allow investigators to review these emails to determine whether they contain classified information, as well as to assess their importance to our investigation.”

He said the FBI could not yet assess whether the new material is significant and he could not predict how long it will take to complete “this additional work.”

The move comes after Comey and the Justice Department decided in July not to pursue charges over Clinton's email practices, saying at the time that the investigation was finished.

Comey has since come under criticism from Donald Trump, lawmakers and others who claim the investigation downplayed the mishandling of classified information during Clinton's tenure.

Trump, speaking to cheering supporters Friday afternoon in Manchester, N.H., praised the FBI for having the “courage” to “right the horrible mistake that they made” – saying he hopes that is “corrected.”

“Hillary Clinton’s corruption is on a scale we have never seen before,” Trump said. “We must not let her take her criminal scheme into the Oval Office.”

In a nod to the significance of the FBI’s announcement, Trump quipped: “The rest of my speech is going to be so boring.”

Other GOP lawmakers also weighed in, urging the bureau to pursue a thorough new probe.

“The FBI’s decision to reopen its investigation into Secretary Clinton reinforces what the House Judiciary Committee has been saying for months: the more we learn about Secretary Clinton’s use of a private email server, the clearer it becomes that she and her associates committed wrongdoing and jeopardized national security," House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., said in a statement.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said the discovery must be “serious” for the bureau to investigate this close to the election.

Clinton did not respond to questions from reporters about the development as she landed in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and did not address the matter while speaking to supporters in the same city.

The development comes 11 days before the general election, and is the latest shockwave to hit the race. Clinton had been gaining in the polls over Trump in the wake of the release of footage showing Trump talking about groping women and subsequent allegations of sexual assault and harassment against him.

However, daily revelations from hacked Clinton campaign emails obtained by WikiLeaks have become a headache for the Democrat's campaign. The resumption of the FBI probe poses a potentially bigger problem.

Ron Hosko, former assistant director of the FBI, told Fox News in a telephone interview that retired FBI officials were "livid" at Comey over the fact that charges were not brought against Clinton in round one of the investigation.

"He lit her on fire and then walked away," Hosko said of Comey holding a news conference laying out Clinton's mishandling of classified information but then not pressing criminal charges.

Hosko said he still defends Comey for not pressing charges because the FBI always has to make a decision "based on what they have" at the time. Hosko said he thinks agents were probing a separate matter and found emails that made them say, "Oh my God look at what we have."

House Speaker Paul Ryan called the FBI decision "long overdue."

But former Obama administration spokesman Tommy Vietor chided the bureau on Twitter.

Fox News' Ed Henry and Jake Gibson contributed to this report. 


Crooked Hillary Clinton calls on FBI to immediately release info on newly discovered emails

Updated 2 hrs 56 mins ago
WASHINGTON -- The FBI is investigating whether there is classified information in new emails uncovered during the sexting investigation of disgraced former congressman Anthony Weiner, the estranged husband of one of Hillary Clinton's closest aides.

FBI Director James Comey told Congress in a letter that the emails prompted investigators to take another look at whether classified information had been mishandled, which had been the focus of its recently closed, criminal probe into Clinton's use of a private email server. Comey couldn't guarantee that the latest focus of the investigation would be finished before Election Day.

Clinton said Friday that "the American people deserve to get the full and complete facts immediately. She urged the FBI to "explain this issue in question, whatever it is, without any delay."

"Let's get it out," she said.

The FBI says it will investigate whether there is classified information in newly discovered emails.

Comey did not provide details about the emails, but a U.S. official told The Associated Press that the emails emerged through the FBI's separate sexting probe of Weiner, who is separated from Clinton confidant Huma Abedin. She served as deputy chief of staff at the State Department and is still a key player in Clinton's presidential campaign. The two separated earlier this year after Weiner was caught in 2011, 2013 and again in 2016 sending sexually explicit text messages and photographs of himself undressed to numerous women.

Federal authorities in New York and North Carolina are investigating online communications between Weiner and a 15-year-old girl. The U.S. official was familiar with the investigation but was not authorized to discuss the matter by name and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The disclosure came less than two weeks before the presidential election and thrust a political liability for Clinton back into the headlines that her campaign thought had been resolved and had begun to recede from the minds of voters. The FBI said in July its investigation of Hillary Clinton's private email server was finished.

Comey stressed in his letter that the FBI could not yet assess "whether or not this material may be significant," or how long it might take to run down the new investigative leads.

"In connection with an unrelated case, the FBI has learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation," Comey wrote. "I agreed that the FBI should take appropriate investigative steps designed to allow investigators to review these emails to determine whether they contain classified information, as well as to assess their importance to our investigation."

Clinton, in a brief statement to reporters Friday evening, noted: "The director himself has said he doesn't know whether the emails referenced in his letter are significant or not. I'm confident whatever they are will not change the conclusion reached in July."

It was unclear what the emails contained, who sent them, or what connection they might have to the yearlong investigation the FBI closed in July without recommending criminal charges. The FBI probe focused on whether Clinton sent or received classified information using a server in the basement of her New York home, which was not authorized to handle such messages. Abedin was interviewed by the FBI as part of its investigation.

Comey said in July that his agents didn't find evidence to support a criminal prosecution or direct evidence that Clinton's private server was hacked.

Matthew Miller, a former chief spokesman for the Justice Department, was dismayed by the timing of Comey's letter.

"Longstanding DOJ and FBI practice is you don't say anything publicly close to an election that can possibly influence that election," Miller said.

Comey, who has talked often about the FBI's need to be accountable to the public, promised extraordinary transparency about the investigation and during intervening months has authorized the release of investigative files from the case, which are normally kept confidential.

That stance also left Comey, a career federal prosecutor who has served under both Republican and Democratic administrations, open to criticism from leaders in both parties that he was trying to influence the outcome of the presidential race.

Clinton campaign supporters were already suggesting the FBI director was putting a thumb on the scale. Had he waited until after Nov. 8 to announce the discovery of the new emails, however, Comey would surely have faced criticism for sitting on major news until after the new president had been selected.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the department learned about the FBI letter from news reports and did not get any notification from the FBI. Toner pledged the department would "cooperate to the full extent that we can."

Speaking at a Clinton rally in Florida, President Barack Obama also steered clear of the issue. White House spokesman Eric Schultz declined comment beyond reiterating Obama's continuing support for Clinton.

The ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, said Comey's letter was particularly troubling because it left so many questions unanswered.

"Without knowing how many emails are involved, who wrote them, when they were written or their subject matter, it's impossible to make any informed judgment on this development," said Feinstein, D-Calif. "The FBI has a history of extreme caution near Election Day so as not to influence the results. Today's break from that tradition is appalling."

Republicans immediately pounced on the news, hoping to shake up a presidential race where most polls appear to show Republican nominee Donald Trump lagging well behind Clinton.

House Speaker Paul Ryan said Clinton has "nobody but herself to blame."

"She was entrusted with some of our nation's most important secrets, and she betrayed that trust by carelessly mishandling highly classified information," Ryan, R-Wis., said in a statement. "This decision, long overdue, is the result of her reckless use of a private email server, and her refusal to be forthcoming with federal investigators. I renew my call for the Director of National Intelligence to suspend all classified briefings for Secretary Clinton until this matter is fully resolved."

Speaking to cheering supporters at a rally in New Hampshire, Trump used Comey's new letter to attack Clinton.

"We must not let her take her criminal scheme into the Oval Office," said Trump, who has pledged to "lock up" his political rival if elected. "Perhaps finally justice will be done."

Prior to seeking public office as a Republican, Trump was a supporter of Clinton's past campaigns for president and senator. Records show the New York billionaire also contributed at least $4,300 to former Rep. Weiner's Democratic campaigns.

Two Puerto Rico Pesticides Applicators Resolve Violations Involving Illegal Use of Methyl Bromide Pesticides in Puerto Rico

Two Puerto Rico Pesticides Applicators Resolve Violations Involving Illegal Use of Methyl Bromide Pesticides in Puerto Rico
Contact Information:
John Martin (

(New York, N.Y. – October 28, 2016) The EPA has finalized legal settlements with two individuals, Miguel A. Merced Rivera and Reinaldo San Miguel, both certified pesticide applicators, and their respective pesticide application companies, Merced Exterminating Service, Corp. and Comejen Exterminating Corp., all of San Juan, Puerto Rico. The settlements resolve violations of the Clean Air Act and federal pesticides law (the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act), involving illegal applications of pesticides containing methyl bromide.

The health effects of exposure to methyl bromide are serious and range from headaches or dizziness, to central nervous system and respiratory system damage.

"Pesticides containing methyl bromide are very toxic and their use is restricted. Applying methyl bromide products indoors is very dangerous and against federal law," said Carmen Guerrero PĂ©rez, the Director of the EPA’s Caribbean Environmental Protection Division. "We must make every effort to minimize the use of dangerous pesticides to protect people’s health in Puerto Rico."

Both companies applied methyl bromide-containing pesticides at locations where they should not have been used and without the proper supervision of a regulatory authority, in violation of federal pesticides law. Comejen, owned and operated by Reinaldo San Miguel also applied methyl bromide-containing pesticides without sufficient personal protection equipment. Additionally, both companies failed to keep proper records and to make required certifications regarding the use of these pesticides, in violation of the Clean Air Act.

As part of the settlements, both individuals have undergone additional pesticides application training and have agreed to seek prior written approval from the EPA prior to engaging in future fumigation activities. Both companies will also develop Integrated Pest Management plans designed to minimize the use of pesticides. Integrated Pest Management practices help prevent pests from becoming a threat by addressing the underlying causes that enable pests to thrive. These actions, such as repairing water leaks, adding weather stripping to windows, and installing door sweeps, reduce pesticide use. These companies’ Integrated Pest Management plans will be reviewed by the EPA to ensure proper protocols are followed before, during, and after applications of restricted use pesticides.

Merced and Merced Exterminating will pay a combined penalty of $2,500 and San Miguel and Comejen Exterminating will pay a $2,000 penalty.

In 1984, the EPA banned the indoor use of methyl bromide products. The few remaining uses are severely restricted and largely limited to commodity applications for quarantine and pre-shipment purposes. Pesticides containing methyl bromide in the U.S. are restricted-use due to their acute toxicity, meaning that they may only be applied by a certified applicator.

The EPA is investigating the use of methyl bromide across the nation, and has concentrated recent efforts on applications in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. In March 2015, a family vacationing in the U.S. Virgin Islands became gravely ill after being exposed to methyl bromide that was used to fumigate a condo unit below their vacation rental. Regardless of whether a company is large, or very small, such as these two companies, pesticide label requirements are the law and must always be followed.

For more information on the EPA's regulation of pesticides, visit:

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