It was a Sunday tradition at Bethany Slavic Missionary Church. After morning services, Florin Ciuriuc joined the line of worshipers waiting to fill their jugs with gallons of free drinking water from a well on the property, a practice church leaders had encouraged.
“I take it for my office every week,” said Ciuriuc, a 50-year-old Romanian immigrant and a founding member of the largely Russian-speaking church, which claims 7,000 congregants.
Church leaders boasted it was the cleanest water in Sacramento, according to Ciuriuc. In fact, test results showed the water contained toxic chemicals from firefighting foam used for decades on a now-shuttered Air Force base a mile away. Church leaders say they did not understand their well was contaminated.
The church’s well is one of thousands of water sources located on and near military bases polluted with chemicals from the foam, which was used by the armed services since the 1960s.
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