They told people the water was safe to drink. Now, Cannon Air Force Base admits numerous wells on and off base are not safe to drink.

Tuesday, the state’s Environment Department issued a warning: Chemical foam used in firefighting has been found in the wells.

The chemical foam can increase the risk of cancer and other diseases.

The Environmental Department is encouraging anyone with a well within a four-mile radius of the Clovis base to drink bottled water until further notice.

The chemical foam, PFAS is associated with an increased risk of cancer. The level for consuming this chemical is 70 nanograms per liter. Off base, wells have had readings from 2,500 to 1,600 nanograms per liter. On base, readings have reached 26,000.
The Department of Defense announced in April that 126 bases had well contamination from the chemical foam. Cannon AFB said initial tests in August showed there was no contamination.

The Environmental Department wanted more testing to be done, which led to Tuesday’s announcement.

“They’re all man-made and they’re not supposed to be in groundwater. There’s no naturally occurring material,” said Bruce Yurdin, Deputy Secretary for the New Mexico Environment Department. “These compounds are not natural in any sense, so to find them and groundwater is an indication of contamination that’s of concern to us.”

Some of that well water was used at local dairies, and because of that, the Food and Drug Administration is looking into associated health risks.

Cannon AFB is in the process of coming up with a plan to clean the chemical plume from the groundwater. All of the residents whose wells have tested positive have been informed of the contamination, and the base is providing them with bottled water.

No timetable has been set for when the contamination will be cleaned up.