RAPID CITY, S.D. — The South Dakota School of Mines & Technology in Rapid City will work with the Air Force Civil Engineer Center at Ellsworth Air Force Base on environmental stewardship goals.

The school’s experts in ecology, hydrology, environmental engineering and other disciplines will help the Air Force clean up contaminated sites, reduce or prevent future pollution and comply with environmental rules and law at its installations.

Ellsworth is one of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund sites.

Like many other Air Force bases, the groundwater around Ellsworth has been contaminated by perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOS), chemicals in the firefighting foam used to extinguish aircraft fires. These chemicals have been linked to cancers and other health problems.

Mines President Jim Rankin says the partnership boosts top-tier science and engineering research and education at the school while supporting the Department of Defense efforts on environmental challenges.

Heather Wilson, who recently stepped down as Air Force secretary, was president of the school from 2013 to 2017.

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