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PFAS in water at Camp Pendleton

 June 7, 2023 at 5:00 AM PDT

Good Morning, I’m Debbie Cruz….it’s Wednesday, June 7th.

What’s being done about toxic chemicals found in Camp Pendleton’s drinking water. More on that next. But first... let’s do the headlines….


There are calls to stop all surgeries at Kaiser Zion Medical Center... over concerns about the sterilization of their equipment.

A Kaiser employee at the hospital says the surgical tools don't meet their sterilization standards.

The allegation comes after Kaiser Zion acknowledged they had an issue with their hot water lines at the facility.

The Kaiser employee says she and dozens of other employees signed a letter demanding surgeries stop until the issues are fixed.

Elizabeth Haynes is a surgical tech at the Kaiser Zion Medical Center.

“I don’t want to use these instruments on my patients.”

Kaiser says it’s only conducting necessary operations with tools that have been cleaned and processed at two outside facilities.


We told you yesterday, that trains heading in and out of San Diego are once again disrupted by a landslide in San Clemente.

Well, it's still unclear when the tracks will reopen.

This is the third time a landslide has disrupted train service between San Diego and Orange County in the past nine months.

Amtrak is providing busses between Oceanside and Irvine for travelers to complete their trips.

For Metrolink riders … there won’t be any service through to San Diego.

The last stop is the Laguna Niguel-Mission Viejo station.


It’s that time of year again… the San Diego County Fair is now open!

This year’s theme is “Get Out There.”

It’s meant to encourage San Diegans to explore the outdoors.

The fair will be open from Wednesday through Sunday every week this month.

Ticket prices range from 12 to 20 dollars, and children under five are free.


Find out what happened when toxic chemicals were found in Camp Pendleton's drinking water.

“We have eight wells here in the north that we produce water from. Well, they’re all offline right now.”

More on that story, after the break.


Officials at Camp Pendleton had to shut down one of its two water processing plants when tests found levels of pfas chemicals exceeded new public health guidelines.

Now the military is working to fix the problem – one that’s affecting more than just the military.

Military reporter Andrew Dyer has more.

At nearly 200,000 square miles, marine corps base camp pendleton is unique among southern california military bases. located between san clemente and oceanside, its 17 miles of pacific coastline offers a glimpse of what coastal california once was – rugged, desolate scrubland almost untouched by the suburban sprawl that would come to define the region. (reporter) it’s also the only base in the area that gets its drinking water from the ground. underground aquifers tapped by wells on the north and south ends of the base provide drinking water for the 38,000 military family members living on base and the 70,000 who work there every day. (reporter) in february, when tests found pfas in the water in excess of new public guidelines, officials had to act fast. “we have eight wells here in the north. that we produce water from.” cmdr. steve ramsey, camp pendleton public works officer “well, they're all offline right now” (reporter) that’s commander steve ramsey, the public works officer at camp pendleton. he says dealing with pfas has become a big part of his job. (reporter) pfas stands for per and poly fluoro alkyl substances. sometimes called “forever chemicals,” they’re a family of man-made compounds that resist water. for more than 70 years they’ve been used in all manner of consumer products. (reporter) the chemicals are used in non-stick cookware, stain-resistant fabrics and even fast food wrappers. (reporter) in october, california set new lower limits on pfas in drinking water. in february, camp pendleton notified personnel it exceeded that limit. cmdr. steve ramsey, camp pendleton public works officer “we hadn't needed to treat for p-fast, you know, until recent regulations came out and and folks our attention on it. but the infrastructure was here.” (reporter) only a handful of wells in the north had such high levels of pfas that they caused the drinking water to test above limits. (reporter) so the base cut those wells off and began processing all the water at the south plant via reverse osmosis before piping it back to the north end of the base. cmdr. steve ramsey, camp pendleton public works officer “it processes approx 6 mil gal day and it will serve the entire population of the base, the city of fallbrook and everybody else.” dr. jose suarez, uc san diego “over 90 percent of the people in the united states have measurable levels of these chemicals.” (reporter) dr. jose suarez is a physician and epidemiologist at the herbert wertheim school of public health at uc san diego. dr. jose suarez, uc san diego  i'm a professor and a researcher in environmental health trying to understand the effects of a lot of different chemicals on people's health.” (reporter) suarez says the prevalence of pfas in consumer products is a public health concern worldwide because of what the research shows about their effects on the body. (reporter) for pregnant women, there’s an increased risk of high blood pressure, preeclampsia and lower birth weights. (reporter) and children also show decreased responsiveness to vaccines. dr. jose suarez, uc san diego “um, there's perhaps a slight increase in the risk for kidney and prostate cancer alterations in cholesterol levels for instance as well. (reporter) suarez says that while it’s important to get these chemicals out of drinking water, getting them out of the environment is an ongoing problem that needs to be solved. dr. jose suarez, uc san diego “and the big issue here is that they're very stable in the environment so it takes them a long time to break up. so some chemicals, it could be months, some chemicals could would be years and some even decades.” cmdr. steve ramsey, camp pendleton public works officer “okay, so the site that's behind me is where we're going to put the elgac installation” (reporter) back at the north water plant on camp pendleton just off interstate 5, ramsey stands in front of a small empty plot – the future home of an activated carbon filtration system. cmdr. steve ramsey, camp pendleton public works officer “the northern water system will flow all of its raw water through the filters and that should take us down to below detectable thresholds for pfas.” (reporter) another activated carbon system is also being installed in the south plant. (reporter) the new filtration plants will be online by the end of this year, which officials say should bring the level of pfas effectively to zero. (reporter) andrew dyer, kpbs news.


Researchers are one step closer to creating a vaccine that can protect us against multiple coronaviruses.

Sci-tech reporter Thomas Fudge tells us about a plan to target the family of viruses that brought covid-19.

Over the past 20 years, three coronaviruses, most recently sars cov-2 spurred deadly global outbreaks. what if one vaccine could have stopped all of those and many more? research at the la jolla institute for immunology has found that could be done. coronaviruses share protein sequences that our immune system can recognize and target. alessandro sette is a professor of biology at the la jolla institute. he says coronaviruses are similar enough to be vulnerable to the same vaccine. 1041 you don’t know which coronavirus may hit you but nevertheless the vaccine should work because you focused your response on the things that are not changing from one coronavirus to the next. he says this medical approach could be applied to other virus families that could be the source of pandemics. soq. 


Speaking of vaccines… San Diego county health officials are urging people most at risk for M-pox to get vaccinated following a C-D-C warning that the virus could resurge.

Health reporter Matt Hoffman has more.

Anyone can contract Mpox but those most at risk include gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men.. The virus, previously known as monkeypox, spreads through close contact including sex. Cases were first seen around this time last year.. And since then about 470 have been reported in San Diego with no new cases since February.. Deputy Public Health Officer Dr. Cameron Kaiser says most vaccinated San Diegans have gotten one dose, but two doses offer better protection.  While you can be vaccinated and certainly get mpox, the disease is milder and you’re much less likely to have serious complications from it Public health officials are getting the word out about vaccinations at the start of pride month.. Ahead of large LGBTQ-plus PRIDE events planned for San Diego in July. MH KPBS News.


Coming up.... Voting continues on a new contract for San Diego Unified teachers and other certificated employees. We’ll have that story, just after the break.


Ballots continue to be cast this week, by teachers and other employees on campuses across the San Diego Unified School District.

Education reporter M.G. Perez has the latest on this historic vote.

A 15-percent pay raise over two years is the headline for the new tentative agreement between San Diego Unified and its more than 6-thousand teachers and other certificated employees like counselors, librarians, and therapists. The deal also includes a lump sum payment retroactive to July 2022… a required lower class size for every Kindergarten to 3rd grade room…and an increase in counselors and full-time nurses. Kirsten Kester is a school audiologist who cast her ballot in favor of ratifying the contract. “it’s exciting to finally be maybe moving up toward where we should be in the district and be more competitive with our salaries so we can get new people in.” Ballots will be collected through Thursday…with the results expected by the end of this weekend. MGP KPBS News.


That’s it for the podcast today. As always you can find more San Diego news online at KPBS dot org. Join us again tomorrow for your daily local news, plus, we hear from a local author who shares his passion for writing fantasy and fairytales with students across So Cal. I’m Debbie Cruz. Thanks for listening and have a great Wednesday.

Officials at Camp Pendleton had to shut down one of its two water processing plants when tests found levels of PFAS chemicals exceeded new public health guidelines. Now the military is working to fix the problem and it’s affecting more than just the military. In other news, researchers are one step closer to creating a vaccine that can protect us against multiple coronaviruses. Plus, more than 6,000 teachers and other certificated employees of the San Diego Unified School District continue voting on a new contract.