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Klamath Basin News, Wednesday, Sept. 25 – Harmful Chemicals Found at Kingsley Field

The latest News around the Klamath Basin from Wynne Broadcasting’s KFLS 1450AM/102.5FM, BasinLife.com and The Herald & News.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Klamath Basin Weather

Sunny, with a high near 77. Overnight, clear with a low of 45.

Sunny, with a high near 77.

Mostly sunny, with a high near 68. West northwest wind around 6 mph.

A 20 percent chance of showers during the day, otherwise partly sunny with a high of 53.

Today’s Headlines…

Chemicals recently found to be harmful to humans and the environment have been found at high levels at Kingsley Field here in Klamath Falls.

The chemicals, called per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, are a group of man-made chemicals that have been used in the United States since the 1940s, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

“Due to their widespread use and persistence in the environment, most people in the United States have been exposed to PFAS,” The EPA PFAS action plan states. The plan was released in February 2019.

The EPA has determined that the chemicals don’t break down in the human body or in the environment and can accumulate over time.

Research has found that PFAS can cause cancer, low infant birth weights and thyroid hormone disruption. The chemicals can also affect the immune system, according to the EPA.

The chemicals have been used in a wide variety of products, due to their ability to form a coating that is resistant to both water and oil. They have been used in coating pans, food wrappings, carpets, chrome plating and in the foam used to fight fires.

Fire-suppressant foam
The fire-suppressant foam is a major source of PFAS contamination at military bases where the foam has been commonly used to extinguish petroleum fires since the 1970s. The Oregon Air National Guard’s 173rd Fighter Wing at Kingsley Field is one of these bases.

“The initial investigation at Kingsley Field determined that PFOS/PFOA compounds were present in the soil, groundwater, surface water, and sediment of preselected areas on base,” wrote Public Affairs Officer Major Nikki Jackson in correspondence with H&N.

PFOS and PFOA are specific chemicals that fall under the PFAS umbrella.
A June 2018 ProPublica report states that more than 600 military sites in the U.S. used foam containing PFAS, and 126 drinking water systems on or near military bases were also contaminated.

Major Jackson said the levels detected at Kingsley field are between 520 ng/L to 69,700 ng/L. This means in some locations on the base the level of PFAS is over 995 times the EPA’s “safe threshold.”   Jackson said the levels of PFAS at Kingsley are not out of place among military bases that have been tested.

Drinking water safe
“The drinking water on Kingsley Field is safe and is fed from the City of Klamath Falls. They [The Air National Guard] have sampled and tested the water at the wellhead and found it clear of the PFOS/PFOA contamination,” Major Jackson wrote.

She said a remedial investigation into the chemicals will soon be started, but the exact date has not yet been determined.

“The Air Force is taking aggressive measures to reduce the risk of mission-related PFOS/PFOA contamination to drinking water sources,” she wrote. Jackson said the Air force ceased use of the foam containing PFAS in 2016, switching instead to a similar foam that does not contain the harmful chemicals. Although the water on the base has been deemed safe, the impact the chemicals could have on the environment it still unknown.

“Ecological risks are of great concern to many stakeholders due to the widespread distribution and persistence of PFAS in the environment and the wide variety of PFAS chemicals for which environmental fate and transport is currently uncharacterized,” the EPA action plan states.

Contamination spread
It is unknown if the contamination has spread beyond the areas tested at Kingsley Field.

“Further testing will need to be conducted to determine if the contamination has spread beyond those sites tested as part of the site inspection. We are currently working with our community partners and the National Guard Bureau to address this issue by formulating a local plan of action,” Major Jackson wrote.

At approximately 2:15PM on Monday a Klamath County Sheriff’s deputy responded to a request to investigate a criminal incident in the 35000 block of S. Chiloquin RD.

Upon arriving on scene, the deputy encountered a 43-year-old female with a weapon that appeared to be experiencing a mental health crisis. The deputy called for backup and attempted to de-escalate the situation with a member of Klamath Basin Behavioral Health Critical Incident Team.

Additional deputies with advanced training in handling critical incidents arrived and worked for several hours in an attempt to encourage the woman to disarm to no avail. Everyone involved exercised a great deal of care and patience and at approximately 6:45PM deputies using diversionary and less-than-lethal tactics were able to take her into custody. She was then transported via Chiloquin Fire & Rescue Ambulance to Sky Lakes Medical Center.

Community members looking for a way to get rid of unwanted or expired medications can now properly dispose of them in a drug collection receptacle located at Klamath Open Door Clinic in Klamath Falls.

Medications can be disposed of with no questions asked. The container is safe, convenient and environmentally friendly. Everyone in the area is welcome to dispose of unused, unwanted or expired medications. The drug collection receptacle is permanent. Items that cannot be accepted include trash, medical waste, syringes, hazardous waste, inhaler or illicit drugs.

The drug collection receptacle is available Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Klamath Open Door clinic at 2074 South Sixth Street.

The city of Klamath Falls will host an open house to discuss parking downtown tonight.

The open house will be from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Ross Ragland Cultural Center and all are encouraged to attend. A press release from the city advertising the event states, “The city of Klamath Falls is seeking feedback on a new Downtown Parking model! The model aims to make parking more equitable, efficient, and fair for all downtown businesses and customers.

Downtown parking has been a topic of discussion in local government for several months. In December, dozens of people came to a city council meeting in opposition to a plan that could start charging residents monthly fees to park downtown.In April, The Klamath Falls Downtown Parking Committee was discussing charging businesses an annual fee for the spaces in front of them, rather than residents.The issue stems from the fact that the revenue from permits and tickets does not cover the cost of maintaining the roads downtown, including parking enforcement, repairs and snow removal.

A fully solar-powered air monitoring station has been installed on the Oregon Institute of Technology’s Klamath Falls campus, complementing the work currently being done by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality to monitor air quality in the Klamath Basin.

The Oregon Tech Solar-Powered Air Quality Monitoring Station will monitor PM2.5 in the Basin, an Environmental Protection Agency criteria pollutant that Klamath Falls is currently out of attainment for in regards to standards set by the EPA. DEQ has been monitoring PM2.5 in the Klamath Basin for many years. By having a second location in the Basin, agencies and Oregon Tech will be able to better characterize the pollution problem in the Basin and move toward continued improvement of Klamath Falls air quality.

The station is located near the campus Arboretum. This year, along with continued work studying the data collected, Dr. Clark hopes to work with students integrating the air quality data into the Oregon Tech app, so that students will be able to check the air quality in real time from the on-campus monitor.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Klamath County was 6.5 percent in August, essentially unchanged from 6.4 percent in July and 6.3 percent this time last year.

Klamath County added 130 jobs in August, typical gains for this time of year. Job losses over the past year accelerated in Klamath County with total nonfarm down 280 jobs. Job losses were concentrated in the private sector with notable declines in professional and business services, leisure and hospitality, and manufacturing. Job gains over the past year were largely concentrated in health services and local government education.

In Lakeview the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 5.9 percent in August. The rate was 6.0 percent in July and 5.7 percent in August 2018.

Six senior students and two faculty members from Oregon Institute of Technology’sdental hygiene program in Klamath Falls traveled to Montego Bay, Jamaica earlier this month to provide dental care to underserved communities in rural areas.

The trip was part of the International Externship Program which provides students the opportunity to travel outside the United States and provide dental care in nontraditional settings and within new cultures. The goal is to not only provide much needed dental care to underserved populations, but also provide students an opportunity to develop confidence, skills and a passion for community service.

These skills can benefit them in future work settings such as public health, dental missions, rural health and mobile dentistry. This is a commitment by each team member, as they must each raise $2,700 through private funds, donations and fundraising events.

Fisheries managers from Oregon and Washington today announced that recreational salmon and steelhead fishing will close effective 12:01 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 26 for the mainstem Columbia River from the Tongue Point/Rocky Point line upstream to Highway 395 near Pasco, Wash. 

The closure remains in effect through Oct. 31 downstream of Bonneville Dam and through Dec. 31 upstream of Bonneville Dam. 

Based on recent harvest estimates, recreational fisheries have exceeded their allocation of upriver bright fall Chinook. The action was necessary to avoid additional Chinook mortalities resulting from ongoing fisheries, and to provide additional protection for upriver steelhead. 

Oregon has the nation’s 4th-best road infrastructure, according to QuoteWizard’s latest report. They analyzed Federal Highway Administration data and ranked states based on percentage of poor condition roads, annual cost per motorist from roads in need of repair and percentage of structurally deficient bridges.

Associated with the ranking factors is the percentage of state highway spending on road repairs. They found that 7% of Oregon’s roads are in poor condition, the 5th-lowest rate in the nation. It cost $268 per driver in Oregon due to poor roads, the 2nd-least amount per capita.5.44% of the bridges in Oregon are structurally deficient, the 12th-lowest percentage.25% of the allocated highway budget is spent on road repairs. All this results in the 4th best road infrastructure in the nation.

Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley have joined Senator Mitt Romney to introduce the Ending New Nicotine Dependencies Act, bipartisan legislation that would regulate e-cigarette standards and protect public health by prohibiting non-tobacco flavors and ensuring that electronic nicotine delivery systems are tamper-proof.

Additionally, the Act would require Health and Human Services to conduct a robust public awareness campaign to educate the public about the dangers of vaping, which would be funded by applying the existing tobacco excise tax to e-cigarettes.

U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley and U.S. Representative Greg Walden are pressing the Forest Service to explain why it has failed to award any ”call when needed” contracts to providers of wildfire-fighting large air tankers.

The Oregon lawmakers noted in a letter to Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen that the “call when needed” solicitation was originally issued in July 2018 and closed several months ago in April 2019.They also noted that failure to award the contracts hurts the Forest Service’s firefighting work both because it lacks access to several next-generation large air tankers, and because several next-generation tankers are available at lower rates than current aircraft in use that could save taxpayer money.

Lakeview, Ore. – Volunteers interested in participating in National Public Lands Day are invited to join the Fremont-Winema National Forest, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Lakeview District and the Oregon Natural Desert Association (ONDA) for a day of trail work.

The local National Public Lands Day event will start Saturday, September 28 at 8 a.m. at the Cox Pass Trailhead, located on the Fremont-Winema National Forest Lakeview Ranger District approximately 30 minutes north of Lakeview.

Volunteers will be working on the Fremont National Recreation Trail for approximately 3 hours Saturday morning.  No previous trail building experience is needed to participate.  Participants needing transportation will meet at the Lakeview Interagency Office located at 1301 South G St. south of Lakeview at 7 a.m. the morning of the event.

Participants should plan on dressing appropriately for the field, conditions and work.  This includes long pants and long sleeve shirt, thick socks and closed-toe shoes with good tread, like hiking boots.  Hat, sunscreen, insect repellent, sunglasses or eye protection are encouraged.

The event will take place rain or shine and volunteers should be prepared for changing conditions.  Jackets and layers are encouraged as high desert mornings and evenings can be cold.

Volunteers should also bring plenty of water, snacks and any other supplies they personally need.  Tools and equipment will be provided.

BLM will be providing lunch.  ONDA will be hosting optional event activities, including camping, dinner, hiking/biking/horseback riding on Sunday and a gear raffle for backpacks, camping stoves, water filter and tent.  Raffle donations benefit Lake County Search and Rescue.

Volunteers interested in extending their day will have the opportunity to continue trail work during the afternoon, ending with dinner and camping.

For additional details and to register for the event, please visit http://bit.ly/FremontNPLD2019.

The Fremont-National Recreation Trail is 135-miles long and traverses most of the length of the Fremont-Winema National Forest.  The trail is open to hikers, backpackers, mountain biking and horseback riding.  It is also part of the 750-mile Oregon Desert Trail.

ONDA crafted the Oregon Desert Trail route to introduce hikers, bikers and horseback riders to the stunning landscapes found in Oregon’s high desert.  The Oregon Desert Trail links existing trails, old road beds and cross-country travel together, overlapping with the Fremont National Recreation Trail for over 60 miles starting at the Chewaucan Crossing near Paisley and ending at Vee Lake near Lakeview.

For more information about this year’s local National Public Lands Day event, please contact Lakeview and Bly Ranger District Recreation Specialist Greg Campbell at 541-947-6359.

For more information on the Fremont-Winema National Forest, visit www.fs.usda.gov/fremont-winema, follow the Forest on Twitter @FremontWinemaNF or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/R6FWNF.

Information on the BLM Lakeview District can be found at www.blm.gov/office/lakeview-district-office.

ONDA is a nonprofit organization that has protected, defended and restored Oregon’s high desert since 1987.  Learn more at www.onda.org.

…For complete details on these and other stories see today’s Herald & News.  Wynne Broadcasting and the Herald and News…stronger together to keep you informed.

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