Yakima Training Center

SELAH, Wash. - It's been over a year since some Selah residents have been able to use their home water lines. Contamination from the Yakima Training Center has seeped into water wells, leaving many residents using bottled water for as much as they can.

"We've been living on bottled water for almost a year now," said Brandi Hyatt, who lives minutes away from the YTC. "We don't feel that it's safe to shower or bathe in, so we have a membership at our local YMCA, that's where we're bathing and showering our kids."

Unsafe levels of per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) from decades of activity from the U.S. Army site has caused the Department of Ecology to issue a draft enforcement order to require action.

The Department of Ecology says the order was necessary so they can have access to data from the Army. 

"Even though they are leading it right now, they're trying to do cleanup, since we have no data, we can't confirm that the cleanup is happening to state standards, we can't confirm which homes are impacted, whose water is safe to drink," said Emily Tasaka, Communications Manager for the Central Region Office.

The residents of the community have also seen the lack of communication with the results of tests.

"There hasn't been a direct outreach from the State to share that information with us," says Hyatt.

I spoke to multiple residents of the area who all have varying concerns of the contamination.

Some told me their property value has plummeted, and if they wanted to sell, they'd have to take pennies on the dollar because of the contaminants. 

Others are concerned about the health of their family and friends, as the long-lasting effects of using or being exposed to the water. Some reported that their children were born with health defects, that they believed to be a result of the contamination.

There are some families in the community whose water is deemed safe by the Army, and don't any assistance from YTC.

"We have people that have this contaminant and they're not even getting bottled water," said Hyatt. "They're being told, actually the opposite. That their water is safe to drink."

The Department of Ecology will open a public comment period on February 6 that will run through March 22. The community is invited to submit feedback on the enforcement order, cleanup process, and opportunities to help.

"At the end of the day, if people don't have clean water, it's our job to come in and protect the environment, to protect the people," said Tasaka.

per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances