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Contractors to dispose of dangerous firefighting chemical

The foam is intended to save property and life, but recent reports indicate that the fire suppressant is linked to injuries and water contamination. A veteran firefighter said his face was chemically burned by the aqueous film forming foam, or AFFF. Since the incident, he has missed more than three months of work.

According to an article in Emergency Management, AFFF has been used for decades by the U.S. military at bases around the world. It is especially effective in combating petroleum-based fires.

The Defense Department has initiated an investigation of the use of AFFF, apparently stored and used at hundreds of U.S. bases around the world.

The Air Force has said it will incinerate old foam stored at Wright-Patterson in Ohio, where the incident involving the firefighter occurred. The Air Force is currently disposing of the potentially carcinogenic compound and replacing it with a more environmentally safe foam as part of a $29 million effort.

At Wright Patterson alone, there is approximately 14,000 gallons of AFFF stored in inventory for training exercises and use in emergencies.

Base officials said they will hire contractors to take care of foam disposal and replacement, but it is uncertain if contractors will do clean-up at other bases where AFFF is stored.

Studies have linked similar chemical compounds to testicular and kidney cancer, as well as liver damage, ulcerative colitis, hormone changes, thyroid problems and more, according to the article.

Clearly, contractors and others disposing of AFFF at bases around the world need to be very careful to avoid serious injuries.

If you have any questions about the Defense Base Act and how this can affect you or a loved one, please contact the Barnes Law Firm at 713-652-4002 for a confidential consultation. 

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