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Contaminated drinking water at Milwaukee military base, 125 others

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) - 126 military bases across the country have dangerous chemicals in their drinking water.

That’s according to a 61-page report released to Congress by the Pentagon.

It’s the first time a list containing all the bases affected by the contamination has been made public.

Two of those bases are in Wisconsin, both General Mitchell Air Reserve Station in Milwaukee and Ft. McCoy in Western Wisconsin.

The list shows potentially dangerous levels of the chemicals PFOS and PFOA that have been linked to cancer and birth defects.

The chemicals are used in a number of household items, but it is concentrated into a foam used by the military to help fight fires on base.

The military started using the foam back in the 1970’s, but it wasn’t until 2000 that the EPA started looking at the danger, and it was 2009 before the military took notice.

The dangerous levels of PFOS and PFOA were found in five of the six wells tested at Mitchell, with some wells testing far above the EPA standards for safety.

But the problem stretches outside military bases as well.

The Pentagon found groundwater contamination and 564 wells that were not on bases across the country.

The testing done at Mitchell was limited to six wells on base.  The Defense Department plans to keep testing in 2018 to see just how far the chemicals spread.

The 128th Air Refueling Wing stationed at Mitchell was not able to talk on camera Friday.  Calls to the Air Force Installment Mission Support Center in San Diego went unanswered.

The Air Force says they are trying to fix the problem, including adding filters and in some cases, giving bottled water to people who live on the base.

If you live near the base and have any questions you can visit an informational webpage set up by the Air Force Civil Engineers Center.

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