New report shows EPA underestimated the dangers of chemicals in drinking water

Several Spokane County families have now filed a lawsuit suing the Federal Government, and the Air Force, saying that the Airway Heights water contamination caused them financial hardships, including loss of property value, crops that no one would buy, and more.

Court documents show that Vincent Fiattarone "suffered financial losses when... contamination of his property and groundwater caused a contracted buyer to reverse plans to purchase the property. He later sold the property for dramatically less than the contracted price."

The court documents go on to say that Bradley and Jan Shrum suffered "financial losses when they were unable to sell the crops from their family farm, which had been irrigated for decades with contaminated groundwater, and when the value of a rental home on their property was reduced due to the contamination of its water well."

The contamination of groundwater was first announced in early 2017. Fairchild Air Force Base Officials later said they believed a firefighting foam they'd been using for years contained a chemical known as PFOS that seeped into the groundwater, making it unsafe for humans.

The city of Airway Heights actually flushed its entire system due to the groundwater issue, but private well owners had to have special filters installed which took months and is still ongoing.

The lawsuit alleges that the Government and Air Force "failed in their duty to warn property  owners, users, bystanders, and sensitive receptors of the inherently dangerous properties" of the chemical.

In Fiattarone's case, court documents say after the original buyer backed out, he spent months trying to get someone else to buy. He eventually sold the property for about $30,000 less than the first price he'd contracted.

The Shrums, court documents say, farm various types of wheat and hay for human consumption. The well that supplies their home and vegetable garden was tested and found to be contaminated with levels of PFOS/PFOA in excess of those declared safe by the EPA.

The Air Force, court documents say, did provide the Shrums with a filtration system to use, which has been installed and is running. However, a sample from the filtered water has not yet been tested, and the family, court docs say, is still not permitted to drink the water.

Additionally, the docs say, in 2017, for the first time in 30 years of farming the property, the Shrums experienced a massive crop failure. They didn't even plant a crop in 2018.

The lawsuit does not list an amount of money that either Fiattarone or the Shrums are seeking. Instead, it says that special and general damage amounts will be "determined at trial."

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