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Drinking water wells around the Yakima Training Center have been contaminated with chemicals used in firefighting foam from the site. Other types of contamination affect different locations on the training center itself. We at Ecology are working hard to ensure that everyone has clean water and a safe environment to live in — and we want you to be involved.
Operated by the U.S. Army, the 327,000-acre training center is contaminated by chemical spills and toxic waste that now present public-health hazards to nearby residents. Though the Army has previously cooperated with us to address environmental concerns at the site, we recently took action to ensure current cleanup efforts proceed with thorough oversight, coordination, and transparency.
How you can help
Give us your feedback by March 22
On Feb. 1, 2023, we issued a draft enforcement order to the Army to secure their full partnership in protecting human and environmental health around the Yakima Training Center.
Do you live nearby? We want you to weigh in on three draft documents that will guide the investigation and cleanup process.
- Enforcement order, which legally requires the Army to conduct a thorough, transparent cleanup of contamination throughout the training center.
- Permit establishing our regulatory framework to oversee cleanup efforts.
- Public participation plan outlining our efforts to keep YOU involved in the process.
Two ways to comment
The two ways to comment on these draft documents:
- Use our online form: ecology.wa.gov/YTC-comment
- Mail a comment to:
1250 W Alder St.
Union Gap, WA 98903
How did the Yakima Training Center get contaminated?
Since 1941, soldiers have used the center for weapons training and for practicing maneuvers. Carrying out these exercises and maintaining equipment released fuel, solvents, lead, explosives, and other toxic chemicals into the environment, contaminating soil and water.
In 2018, the Army and our agency began negotiating a sitewide cleanup plan to address contamination. Those concerns took on new urgency in 2020, when Army tests revealed unsafe levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in drinking water wells around the base. Known as “forever chemicals,” they are used in firefighting foam at locations like the training center. PFAS do not naturally break down in the environment and have a range of toxic effects on human health.
What we are doing about the contamination
In response to emerging PFAS concerns, the Army is currently conducting investigation efforts without state oversight or public review.
We issued an enforcement order to ensure that sitewide cleanup meets both state and federal standards, and that the public is given opportunities to learn about cleanup plans and provide their input. Alongside our partners at the Washington Department of Health and the Yakima Health District, our top priority is overseeing a thorough, transparent investigation and cleanup.
Your input can help us take the necessary steps to address this problem and provide meaningful solutions to the community. Please submit comments by March 22.