Military bases' contamination will affect water for generations

(This report is part of the “Troubled Water” project produced by the Carnegie-Knight News21 initiative, a national investigative reporting project by top college journalism students and recent graduates from across the country and headquartered at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.)

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VICTORVILLE, CA. — Once a fighter jet training base critical to the Cold War, little remains of the former George Air Force Base but rows of dilapidated houses, a dismantled military hospital and dangerous chemicals from pesticides, jet fuels and other hazardous wastes that have poisoned the water for decades.

“Now when I see the base today, areas of it look like a war zone,” said Frank Vera, an Air Force veteran stationed on the base in the early 1970s. “I don’t think people know what to do with some of these areas because they are so contaminated.”

Frank Vera visits the former George Air Force Base in Victorville, Calif., where he was stationed for a year in the 1970s. Two decades after the base was closed, buildings remain abandoned. (Left: Adrienne St. Clair | Right: Corinne Roels/News21)

George is among at least 400 active and closed military installations nationwide where the use of toxic chemicals has contaminated or is suspected of contaminating water on bases and nearby communities with chemicals ranging from cleaning solvents and paints to explosives and firefighting foam, according to a News21 investigation.

At 149 current and former U.S. military bases, the contamination is so severe that they have been designated Superfund sites by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, meaning they are among the most hazardous areas in the country requiring cleanup.

[Podcast: A conversation of News21 reporter Adrienne St. Clair]

One of those installations, Hill Air Force Base just north of Salt Lake City, is both one of the state’s largest employers, with 21,000 employees, and a Superfund site. Since 1987, the EPA has been monitoring the base, where more than 60 chemicals were found in soil and groundwater. According to EPA records, an “unsafe level of contamination” still exists on some areas of the base.

“Even though the DOD has made significant strides in identifying and investigating the level of contamination at domestic base sites, the pace of actual cleanup has been quite slow,” according to a research study from the Berkeley School of Law. “As the Governmental Accountability Office (GAO) recently found, ‘most of the time and money has been spent studying the problem.’”

According to a 2017 GAO report, the Department of Defense already has spent $11.5 billion on evaluations and environmental cleanup of closed bases, and it estimates $3.4 billion more will be needed.

The sun sets over the former George Air Force Base, where once busy roads are now mostly empty. (Corinne Roels/News21)

In March, the DOD said it would be testing the water at 395 active and closed bases across the country to determine whether perfluorinated compounds are contaminating the drinking water on bases and in communities around them.

Originally developed by corporate giants 3M and DuPont for use in consumer products such as Teflon, Scotchgard and stain-proof clothing, these chemicals, known as per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS), were used by the DOD since the 1970s in firefighting foam to extinguish jet fuel fires.

In 2012, the EPA added PFAS to its list of unregulated contaminants that may be hazardous to human health, though records indicate the Pentagon knew of the hazards decades earlier.  In 1981, the Air Force Aerospace Medical Research Laboratory conducted studies that found that exposure to earlier variations of PFAS were harmful in female rats and caused behavioral changes in offspring.

The Air Force started replacing the original firefighting foam with a “new, environmentally responsible firefighting foam” in August 2016.

Because the chemicals don’t break down easily, communities still are finding them in their drinking water. For example, in May, residents in Airway Heights, Wash., were instructed not to drink their tap water after elevated levels of PFAS were found in drinking water wells on and around the active Fairchild Air Force Base.

“I think it’s crazy that pretty much the whole time I’ve lived out here, approximately 12 years, I’ve been drinking bad water,” said Martha Grall, an Airway Heights resident. “Because they didn’t feel like sharing that information years ago, I have no faith in believing anything they have to say now when they try and tell us it’s safe now.”

Though the Air Force started treating the water, Grall said, “As far as trusting the tap water, I don’t think I ever will.”

Fairchild is one of more than 30 bases where PFAS contamination was discovered this year. In 2015, the DOD reported to the GAO that “the cost of cleaning up perfluorinated compounds will likely be  significant.” The Air Force had budgeted $100 million over a five-year period for the investigation and remediation of the chemical. However, the Air Force has already spent more than $150 million as of June 2017.

As of August, the DOD had yet to complete testing for PFAS at more than 200 bases.

“There are lots of places where this is a problem,” said Congressman Dan Kildee, a Democrat from Michigan. “And there are lots of places where it’s a problem, and the people don’t even know it yet.”

“The biggest concern right now is that the Air Force hasn’t had any sense of urgency,” he said. "They ought to be leading the effort to solve this problem. To find people who might have been affected, and to provide whatever relief is appropriate.”

But U.S. Navy Commander Patrick Evans, a Pentagon spokesman, told News21 in a statement, “We take this matter very seriously and pledge an unshakable commitment to protecting human health and the environment.”

Frank Vera explores the old George Air Force Base, where he lived for a year after enlisting in the military. Part of the base has been converted to a prison, while other parts remain abandoned. (Photo by Corinne Roels/News21)

PFAS threaten communities decades after closures

The former George Air Force base sits on the edge of the Mojave Desert in California. Many parts of it are abandoned. The operations building and movie theater are boarded up. Tumbleweeds, mounds of concrete and building materials fill the dugout of an old baseball field. But while almost any sign of military life is gone, the water contamination is not.

“The Air Force is promising to clean it up,” said Vera, the veteran who served at the base. “But in the end, they are just walking away from the contaminated bases and the people are stuck with this nightmare.”

George Air Force Base, Victorville, California from News21 on Vimeo.

In 1990, the base was added to the EPA’s Superfund list. Jet fuel, benzene, trichloroethylene (TCE), pesticides and radioactive wastes have contaminated groundwater, EPA records show.

George was closed in 1992 as part of the Base Realignment and Closure, or BRAC. Within one year, the DOD began transferring land over to local communities to be redeveloped. But 25 years later, the water still is contaminated.

“You don’t see George as far along as some of the other military bases,” said Bill Muir, the senior engineering geologist for the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board, responsible for protecting water in the region.

Bill Muir works with the Lahontan Region Water Board, which is responsible for maintaining water quality in the area, including the former George Air Force Base. (Adrienne St. Clair/News21)

In 2015, PFAS chemicals also were found by the Air Force in the groundwater at the base, a potential threat to the businesses that have been built on the base, as well as surrounding communities.

“We’re not aware that the perfluorinated compounds have impacted any of the drinking water wells downgradient of the base,” Muir said. “There is potential, and that’s why the Air Force will be sampling in the future, and we’ll encourage that.”

Vera, 64, worked in the gun shop, where he said he used chlorinated solvents to clean weapons. “I would come out of there drenched in TCE,” he said. “They would empty the wash tank periodically and just dump it down the drain.”

“The Air Force and the government in general, betrayed not only me, but everyone who stayed at these Superfund sites because they absolutely knew that they were contaminated,” said Vera. “They knew the harm it would possibly cause us.”

“I drank gallons and gallons of water because it was the desert,” he said. “A lot of times, it was dark and had a real chemical taste. It tasted like JP-4, jet fuel.”

In 2008, Vera created a website, Georgeafb.info, which started out as an “information repository” to keep his records and documents. Lisa McCrea, a former military wife, learned about the tainted water from his website.

“Lots of us didn’t know a thing about the contamination,” said McCrea, 49. “We owe so much to Frank for his tireless years of work on this, trying to bring this to light (and) letting everybody know because there’s still families out there that have no clue.”

McCrea lived on the base with her family for four years. She recalled the unsettling memory of pesticides being sprayed on her home, leaving yellow stains on the walls and on their clothes. In July, she made the trip from Ohio to California to revisit the base.

“It’s hard to believe that we used to live here day in and day out without any protection,” said McCrea, standing in front of her former house. “And it’s even more upsetting that they (Air Force) let us live here without doing anything about it.”

Terri Crooks, 59, is an Air Force veteran who was stationed on the base in the mid-’80s where she worked as an administrative clerk. She later was diagnosed with breast cancer and gynecological issues.

From Vera’s website, Crooks learned that her conditions could be related to exposure to pesticides and submitted a claim to the Department of Veterans Affairs in 2015. The VA awarded her 70 percent disability, acknowledging that her health conditions could be connected to her military service at the base.

Many of the buildings left on the former George Air Force Base are empty, including the hospital, which sits near a water tower. (Corinne Roels/News21)

Crooks was exposed to the chemical nearly 40 years ago, but Muir said a pesticide plume is among George’s biggest contamination problems even now.

“The Air Force needs to work to aggressively treat these zones of contamination,” Muir said. Instead, it proposed using Monitored Natural Attenuation, a remediation strategy that allows nature to break down the chemicals over time.

Phil Mook, a senior representative for the Air Force Civil Engineer Center, which is overseeing cleanup at George, said the Air Force has spent the last 30 years removing contamination.

“We’ve done a lot of work,” Mook said. “We still have work to do. In about 30 years, we’ll have much smaller TCE, fuels and petroleum. Estimated, another 70 years after that, we have the last little tail of it.”

But according to the Lahontan Water Board, that treatment at George could take up to 500 years for the pesticide and solvent contamination to reach safe levels, and up to 40,000 years for areas of fuel contamination in the groundwater.

The MNA method is used at more than half of the military locations classified as Superfund sites, according to EPA data.

“We can’t accept monitored natural attenuation,” Muir said. “We need active remediation. We want a more aggressive approach than watching it.”

“We have been forgotten,” McCrea told News21. “The base closed, everyone scattered to the wind, and I guess they figured, problem solved,” she continued. “To this day, there has been no word from the United States Air Force about the contamination at George Air Force Base.”

Wurtsmith Air Force Base in Oscoda, Mich., closed in 1993 and has been left mostly abandoned. (Adrienne St. Clair/News21)

Base cleanups cost taxpayers millions

At the Wurtsmith Air Force Base in northern Michigan, the water contamination has persisted for nearly half a century. At the height of the Cold War, the base was home to B-52s and nuclear bombs. Now,  little is left but empty airfields and crumbling buildings.

Wurtsmith was closed in 1993 and was proposed as a Superfund site in 1994. With an estimated cleanup cost of $72 million, the DOD expects Wurtsmith to be one of the most expensive cleanups of any former base, according to a 2017 GAO report.

Leaking storage tanks and waste disposal practices at the base contaminated the groundwater with benzene, trichloroethylene, lead and other hazardous chemicals for decades. PFAS discovered in 2012 also polluted groundwater, not only on the base but in surrounding communities.

Remnants of the old Wurtsmith Air Force Base offer hints of military life from nearly three decades ago. Now, residents in Oscada, Mich., are left with contaminated water from years of operations. (Corinne Roels/News21)

“It’s clear that what was thought to be a relatively confined problem is bigger than what we thought it was,” said Kildee, the Michigan congressman whose district includes Wurtsmith. “And it’s clearly affected the drinking water.”

Nearly 400 drinking water wells on and near the base have tested positive for the PFAS, and the contamination is migrating toward Lake Huron as well as local lakes used for fishing and recreation.

“Right now, the Air Force said it’s going to be at least another 30 years to treat this,” said Aaron Weed, township supervisor for Oscoda, Mich. “But we’ve already been dealing with contamination for over 30 years.”

Van Etten Lake in Oscada, Mich., has been contaminated with dangerous chemicals used in firefighting foam on the former Wurtsmith Air Force. (Adrienne St. Clair/News21)

The town relies on water recreation to support its economy. We have visitors who don’t want to come up here and visit because they think all the water is contaminated,” said Weed. “It is safe to swim in the water. Just drinking the contaminated water is a problem.”

Van Etten Lake runs through the center of Oscoda and has tested positive for PFAS.

“Tourism and our economy are affected by this,” said Robert Tasior, a resident in Oscoda Township.

He also is part of the Wurtsmith Restoration Advisory Board, which includes EPA representatives, Air Force officials and other residents who are working together on a cleanup plan. He says the Air Force needs to “step up.”

“It happened under their watch. And where I come from, if it happened under your watch, you’re responsible for it,” he said. “If it means putting shovels in the ground to get rid of this stuff, then that’s what they need to do.”

Robert Tasior is a member of the Restoration Advisory Board, a community group established to work with the Air Force and the EPA to develop a cleanup plan for Oscoda Township, Mich. (Adrienne St. Clair/News21)

Weed, the township supervisor, said the Air Force only is treating groundwater under the base and has been unresponsive to concerns about PFAS migrating toward the lake.

“I want people to have clean water,” Weed said. “I don’t want them to be sick from the natural environment we really have here. I believe that this slow response from the Air Force in treating this contamination is a poisoning of the American people.”

While residents worry about the current PFAS contamination, veterans like Rick Thompto, 58, are concerned about the long legacy of contamination at the base. Thompto worked as a security police officer on the base from 1978 to 1982. One night, while on a routine security check of the base, he discovered leaking barrels of cleaning solvents.

“We noticed that the door was open to this building … it was always locked,” Thompto said. “We stepped in there and were hit with a strange odor. I looked and it was all rolling down and going in the drain.”

Rick Thompto holds his old military ID, which he still carries in his wallet. While working security police on Wurtsmith Air Force Base, he checked ID badges of personnel in the weapons storage area. (Left: Corinne Roels | Right: Adrienne St. Clair/News21)

Thompto now has a persistent brain tumor he and his wife contend is the result of drinking toxic water during his nearly five years at Wurtsmith. In 2007, he was awarded 100 percent disability from the VA.

It took Thompto and his wife seven years and several appeals before the VA acknowledged that his brain tumor was related to contaminated water. A recent brain scan shows Thompto could completely lose his brain function at any time.

“This isn’t going to happen gradually,” said his wife, Tressa. “It could happen tonight. It could happen a few months from now.”

Many of the buildings remaining on the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base have decayed over the years. (Corinne Roels/News21)

“He shouldn’t have gotten sick,” she continued. “If the government did their job the right way and cared about their people, he wouldn’t have gotten sick in the first place.”

A public health assessment from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services in 2000 concluded that the TCE contamination Wurtsmith’s drinking water had been present as early as the 1950s.

“To watch your loved one slowly die in front of you is difficult,” said Tressa Thompto. “It took us seven years of fighting, and even after winning, you’re still fighting.”

 

Firefighting foam was used on the air strip at the former Pease Air Force Base in Portsmouth, N.H. Today, the airstrip is used by a commercial airline and the Air National Guard. (Adrienne St. Clair/News21)

A community works to bounce back 

Pease Air Force Base in Portsmouth, N.H., bears little resemblance to the abandoned landscapes at other closed bases. Before the base closed in the spring of 1991, the state of New Hampshire had already created a redevelopment plan to replace the former base with a business park.

Despite being classified as an Superfund site in 1990 and “one of the most contaminated Superfund sites in New England” due to TCE, jet fuel and other contaminants in the groundwater, Pease bounced back after nearly a decade of cleanup.

Today, the base is gone, replaced with brick buildings housing restaurants, pharmaceutical companies and day care centers.

Pease Air Force Base, Portsmouth, New Hampshire from News21 on Vimeo.

“The Air Force has said that this is probably the most successful redevelopment of an Air Force base that they have in the country,” said Andrea Amico, co-founder of a community action group Testing for Pease.

“It’s beautiful. It’s tree lined. It’s a very nice place,” said Amico. “At lunch time, it’s filled with people running and biking and walking, it’s a beautiful place to be. So you don’t come on to this thinking, ‘Oh, my God, this place is an environmental disaster.’”

Amico didn’t know about the history of the Pease International Tradeport property when she moved to Portsmouth. Starting in 2011, she dropped her infant daughter off every day at a day care center nestled between lush trees and her husband’s office building on the tradeport without worry.

But in 2014, Amico learned from a newspaper article that water serving the tradeport was highly contaminated and unsafe to drink. Her daughter and husband had been drinking the water every day for three years.

Pease was the first military base to discover PFAS in the local drinking water. Three drinking water wells serving the entire tradeport tested positive for PFAS, and one in particular tested at levels more than 12.5 times above the EPA provisional health advisory.

“When you do something that impacts children, you better watch out for their moms,” she said.

Andrea Amico (from left), Michelle Dalton and Alayna Davis, stand in front of the contaminated Haven Well on the former Pease Air Force Base. The women founded Testing for Pease, a community activist group to fight for health testing for the people who had been drinking water on the base, including their children who attended a day care there. (Adrienne St. Clair/News21)

Amico and two other mothers created an advocacy group after learning that their children had been drinking contaminated water at a daycare on the tradeport. Amico, Michelle Dalton and Alayna Davis created Testing for Pease and lobbied for two years to get blood testing for the community funded by New Hampshire Health and Human Services.

She remembered the day she received the results for her two children. “It was like a kick in the face,” she recalled. “Even knowing they were going to be high, to actually see it on paper was a really big blow.”

Amico’s daughter, now 6, had the highest PFAS level of anyone in the family. “I know it’s going to be in her blood for a long time,” Amico said. “And there’s not a lot of data to support what it may or may not do to her.”

Much of the research about PFAS has been left to community.

“It’s a Catch-22 because we’re at the forefront of all the bases,” said Dalton. “We’re kind of in uncharted territory.”

A system to treat contamination from military operations on the former Pease Air Force Base was built on top of an area where firefighting foam was used. Water contaminated by chemicals in firefighting foam still runs from the Pease International Tradeport.(Left photo by Adrienne St. Clair/News21; right photo by Corinne Roels/News21)

Amico says that so far, the Air Force has been responsive, but only after receiving significant pressure from community members, the EPA and New Hampshire state representatives.

“It doesn’t feel as if they’ve done anything on their own good will here, which is frustrating to me,” she said.

Portsmouth resident Lindsey Carmichael is a member of Pease’s Community Assistance Panel, a group of citizens who work with federal agencies to look at health effects on the community. She became involved after learning that the water at her son’s day care was contaminated.

Although her son’s blood levels did not show a heightened level of PFAS, she is still concerned for the long-term health effects on her son and those who drank the water at the tradeport.

One of the main things that we’re hoping for is that the DOD, Air Force, who was the polluter who has taken full responsibility for the contamination, would also pay for a health study to help us understand what in fact the implications are of the exposure,” Carmichael said.

However, as of May 2017, the Air Force has denied community requests to conduct a health study on the residents affected by the contamination at Pease.

“All of us are guinea pigs and we bear the burden of proving a product or chemical’s safety – or lack thereof – and the consequences are what we’re seeing here,”  Carmichael said.

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(F)               We reserve the right to display advertisements in connection with your User Content and to use your User Content for advertising and promotional purposes.  You acknowledge and agree that your User Content may be included on the websites and advertising networks of our distribution partners and third-party service providers (including their downstream users).

(G)             We have the right, but not the obligation, to monitor User Content.  We have the right in our sole discretion and for any reason whatsoever to edit, refuse to post, remove, or disable access to any User Content.

(H)            We do not control or endorse any User Content and specifically disclaim any responsibility or liability to any person or entity (including, without limitation, persons who may use or rely on such material) for any loss, damage (whether actual, consequential, punitive or otherwise), injury, claim, liability or other cause of any kind or character based upon or resulting from any User Content.  User Forums are by design public, and you understand that the uploading to and/or posting of User Content any information to the User Forums shall not be subject to any obligation of confidence on our part, and we shall not be liable for any use or disclosure of the User Content posted.  You are fully and solely responsible for your User Content.  You understand that any User Content you post must be owned and/or created by you or you must have permission to upload, post, transmit, or share.

6.                  SERVICE CONTENT & THIRD-PARTY LINKS

(A)             We provide the Services including, without limitation, Service Content for educational, informational, entertainment and promotional purposes only.  By accessing or linking to the Services, you assume the risk that the information on the Services may be incomplete, inaccurate, out of date, or may not meet your needs and requirements.  You may not rely on any information and opinions expressed on any of our Services for any other purpose.  In all instances, it is your responsibility to evaluate the accuracy, timeliness, completeness, or usefulness of Service Content.  Under no circumstances will we be liable for any loss or damage caused by your reliance on any Service Content.

(B)              In many instances, Service Content will include content posted by a third-party or will represent the opinions and judgments of a third-party.  We do not endorse, warrant and are not responsible for the accuracy, timeliness, completeness, or reliability of any opinion, advice, or statement made on the Services by anyone other than authorized employees or spokespersons while acting in their official capacities.

(C)              Any health-related information that may be posted is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. We do not endorse or warrant the validity of any such health-related statements found on the Services or in any third-party sites referenced in the Services. This information should be treated as general in nature which may be helpful to some persons but not others, depending upon their personal medical needs. You should always consult with your physician prior to changing or undertaking a new diet or exercise program. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on the Services.

(D)             If there is a dispute between persons accessing the Services or between persons accessing the Services and any third party, you understand and agree that we are under no obligation to become involved.  If there is such a dispute, you hereby release Company and its officers, directors, employees, parents, partners, successors, agents, affiliates, subsidiaries, and their related companies from claims, demands, and damages of every kind or nature arising out of, relating to, or in any way connected with such dispute.

(E)              The Services may contain links to other websites maintained by third parties.  We do not operate or control, in any respect, or necessarily endorse the content found on these third-party websites.  You assume sole responsibility for your use of third-party links.  We are not responsible for any content posted on third-party websites or liable to you for any loss or damage of any sort incurred as a result of your dealings with any third-party or their website.  If you choose to access any third-party site (including any links), you do so at your own risk, and your use of that site is subject to its own terms of use and privacy policy, which you should review.  The presence of a link to a third-party site does not constitute or imply our endorsement, sponsorship, or recommendation of the third party or of the content, products, or services contained on, or available through, the site.

(F)             We may also display advertisements for the goods and services of a third party on the Services, including in connection with co-promotions, sponsorships and other similar partnership arrangements.  We do not endorse or represent and is not responsible for the safety, quality, accuracy, reliability, integrity or legality of any such goods or services advertised, promoted or displayed on the Services.  We will not be a party to or in any way responsible for monitoring any transaction between you and any third-party.

7.                  PHONE CALLS AND MOBILE MESSAGES; AUTOMATIC-RENEWAL TERMS

(A)               You may subscribe for certain Services for us to call or send you text messages (such as for notice of weather-related conditions) (the “Communication Services”).  By subscribing for any such Communication Service, you represent and warrant that you are the lawful owner of the phone or device that will receive the call or text message.  If your contact information changes, you will immediately notify us of your new contact information.

(B)              The Communication Services may not be available at all times and in all areas.  Neither Company nor its affiliates are responsible for phone calls or text messages that you do not receive for any reason.

(C)              You acknowledge we may call you or send you a text message at any time as part of the Communication Services and there is neither a minimum nor a maximum number of calls or text messages you may receive as part of the Communication Services and the frequency may vary depending on your settings.  You consent to us calling or sending you text messages as part of the Communication Services.

(D)              Standard call and message rates may apply from your mobile or wireless device carrier for calls or text messages you receive, notwithstanding any payment you may make to Company for the Communication Services.

(E)             You may cancel the Communication Services at any time through the process described for any such Communication Services, but Company will not refund any portion of previously-paid subscription fees.  Company will provide you with the Communication Services during the initial term described at the time of purchase for such Communication Service and, until you cancel such Service, for subsequent renewal terms equal to the period of the initial term.

(F)             COMMUNICATION SERVICES AUTOMATICALLY RENEW AND WE WILL CONTINUE TO PROVIDE THEM UNTIL YOU CANCEL SUCH SERVICES.  YOU HEREBY AUTHORIZE COMPANY TO CHARGE THE CREDIT CARD THAT YOU HAVE PROVIDED FOR THE COMMUNICATION SERVICES FOR THE INITIAL TERM OF THE COMMUNICATION SERVICES AND ANY RENEWAL TERMS.  THE COMMUNICATION SERVICES WILL AUTOMATICALLY RENEW FOR THE PERIODS SET FORTH AT THE TIME OF PURCHASE (E.G., MONTHLY OR ANNUALLY).  YOU MAY CANCEL THE COMMUNICATION SERVICES AT ANY TIME BY CONTACTING US AT Insert email address WITH THE SUBJECT “CANCELLATION REQUEST.”  THERE WILL BE RECURRING CHARGES IN THE AMOUNT INITIALLY SET FORTH AT THE TIME OF PURCHASE, BUT SUCH AMOUNT MAY CHANGE IN THE FUTURE.  THE MINIMUM PURCHASE OBLIGATION IS THE PRICE OF THE COMMUNICATION SERVICES.  IF THERE IS A MATERIAL CHANGE TO THE AUTOMATIC-RENEWAL TERMS, COMPANY WILL NOTIFY YOU OF THE CHANGE AND PROVIDE YOU WITH DETAILS ABOUT CANCELLING THE COMMUNICATION SERVICES.

8.                  INDEMNIFICATION

You agree to indemnify and hold harmless Company and its officers, directors, employees, parents, partners, successors, agents, distribution partners, affiliates, subsidiaries, and their related companies from and against any and all claims, liabilities, losses, damages, obligations, costs and expenses (including reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs) arising out of, related to, or that may arise in connection with:  (i) your access to or use of the Services; (ii) User Content provided by you or through use of your Membership; (iii) any actual or alleged violation or breach by you of these Terms of Use; (iv) any actual or alleged breach of any representation, warranty, or covenant that you have made to us; or (v) your acts or omissions.  You agree to cooperate fully with us in the defense of any claim that is the subject of your obligations hereunder. 

9.                  DISCLAIMERS

(A)       YOU EXPRESSLY AGREE THAT USE OF THE SERVICES IS AT YOUR SOLE RISK.  THE SERVICES AND SERVICE CONTENT ARE PROVIDED ON AN “AS IS” AND “AS AVAILABLE” BASIS WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EITHER EXPRESS OR IMPLIED.  WITHOUT LIMITING THE FOREGOING AND TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW, COMPANY AND ITS OFFICERS, DIRECTORS, EMPLOYEES, PARENTS, PARTNERS, SUCCESSORS, AGENTS, DISTRIBUTION PARTNERS, AFFILIATES, SUBSIDIARIES, AND THEIR RELATED COMPANIES DISCLAIM ANY AND ALL WARRANTIES INCLUDING ANY:  (I) WARRANTIES THAT THE SERVICES WILL MEET YOUR REQUIREMENTS; (II) WARRANTIES CONCERNING THE AVAILABILITY, ACCURACY, SECURITY, USEFULNESS, TIMELINESS, OR INFORMATIONAL CONTENT OF THE SERVICES OR SERVICE CONTENT; (III) WARRANTIES OF TITLE, NON-INFRINGEMENT, MERCHANTABILITY, OR FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE; (IV) WARRANTIES FOR SERVICES OR GOODS RECEIVED THROUGH OR ADVERTISED ON OUR SERVICES OR ACCESSED THROUGH THE SERVICES; (V) WARRANTIES CONCERNING THE ACCURACY OR RELIABILITY OF THE RESULTS THAT MAY BE OBTAINED FROM THE USE OF THE SERVICES; (VI) WARRANTIES THAT YOUR USE OF THE SERVICES WILL BE SECURE OR UNINTERRUPTED; AND (VII) WARRANTIES THAT ERRORS IN THE SERVICES WILL BE CORRECTED.

(B)       CONSULT WITH YOUR BROKER OR OTHER FINANCIAL REPRESENTATIVE TO VERIFY PRICING OR OTHER INFORMATION PROVIDED ON OR THROUGH THE SERVICES PRIOR TO EXECUTING A STOCK TRADE OR MAKING OTHER FINANCIAL DECISIONS.  NEITHER COMPANY NOR ITS INFORMATION/CONTENT PROVIDERS SHALL HAVE ANY LIABILITY FOR INVESTMENT DECISIONS BASED ON THE INFORMATION PROVIDED OR ACCESSIBLE VIA THE SERVICES.

10.                  LIMITATION ON LIABILITY

(A)             UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHALL COMPANY OR ITS OFFICERS, DIRECTORS, EMPLOYEES, PARENTS, PARTNERS, SUCCESSORS, AGENTS, DISTRIBUTION PARTNERS, AFFILIATES, SUBSIDIARIES, OR THEIR RELATED COMPANIES BE LIABLE FOR INDIRECT, INCIDENTAL, SPECIAL, CONSEQUENTIAL OR EXEMPLARY DAMAGES (EVEN IF COMPANY HAS BEEN ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES), ARISING OUT OF, RELATING TO, OR IN ANY WAY CONNECTED WITH THE SERVICES OR THESE TERMS OF USE.  YOUR SOLE REMEDY FOR DISSATISFACTION WITH THE SERVICES INCLUDING, WITHOUT LIMITATION, THE SERVICE CONTENT IS TO STOP USING THE SERVICES.   SUCH LIMITATION SHALL ALSO APPLY WITH RESPECT TO DAMAGES INCURRED BY REASON OF SERVICES OR PRODUCTS RECEIVED THROUGH OR ADVERTISED IN CONNECTION WITH ANY OF THE SERVICES OR ANY LINKS ON THE SERVICES, AS WELL AS BY REASON OF ANY INFORMATION OR ADVICE RECEIVED THROUGH OR ADVERTISED IN CONNECTION WITH ANY OF THE SERVICES OR ANY LINKS ON THE SERVICES.  SUCH LIMITATION SHALL ALSO APPLY WITH RESPECT TO DAMAGES INCURRED BY REASON OF ANY CONTENT POSTED BY A THIRD-PARTY OR CONDUCT OF A THIRD-PARTY ON THE SERVICES.

(B)              NOTWITHSTANDING ANYTHING TO THE CONTRARY CONTAINED HEREIN, IN NO EVENT SHALL THE CUMULATIVE LIABILITY OF COMPANY AND ITS OFFICERS, DIRECTORS, EMPLOYEES, PARENTS, PARTNERS, SUCCESSORS, AGENTS, DISTRIBUTION PARTNERS, AFFILIATES, SUBSIDIARIES, AND THEIR RELATED COMPANIES EXCEED THE GREATER OF THE TOTAL PAYMENTS RECEIVED FROM YOU BY COMPANY DURING THE PRECEDING TWELVE (12) MONTH PERIOD OR $100.  FURTHERMORE, YOU AGREE THAT ANY CAUSE OF ACTION ARISING OUT OF, RELATING TO, OR IN ANY WAY CONNECTED WITH ANY OF THE SERVICES OR THESE TERMS OF USE MUST COMMENCE WITHIN ONE (1) YEAR AFTER THE CAUSE OF ACTION ACCRUES; OTHERWISE, SUCH CAUSE OF ACTION SHALL BE PERMANENTLY BARRED.

(C)              In some jurisdictions limitations of liability are not permitted. In such jurisdictions, some of the foregoing limitations may not apply to you. These limitations shall apply to the fullest extent permitted by law.

11.              TERMINATION

(A)             We reserve the right in our sole discretion and at any time to terminate or suspend your Membership and/or block your access to the Services for any reason including, without limitation if you have failed to comply with these Terms of Use.  You agree that we are not liable to you or any third party for any termination or suspension of your Membership or for blocking your access to the Services.

(B)              Any suspension or termination shall not affect your obligations to us under these Terms of Use.   The provisions of these Terms of Use which by their nature should survive the suspension or termination of your Membership or these Terms of Use shall survive including, but not limited to the rights and licenses that you have granted hereunder, indemnities, releases, disclaimers, limitations on liability, provisions related to choice of law, dispute resolution, no class action, no trial by jury and all of the “MISCELLANEOUS” provisions below.

12.              COPYRIGHT POLICY

(A)             We respect the intellectual property rights of others and expect users to do the same.  In appropriate circumstances and at our sole discretion, we may terminate and/or disable the Membership of users suspected to be infringing the copyrights (or other intellectual property rights) of others.  Additionally, in appropriate circumstances and in our sole discretion, we may remove or disable access to material on the Services that may be infringing or the subject of infringing activity.

(B)              In accordance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998, Title 17 of the United States Code, Section 512 (“DMCA”), we will respond promptly to claims of copyright infringement that are reported to the agent that we have designated to receive notifications of claims infringement (its “Designated Agent”).  Our Designated Agent is:

David M. Giles, Deputy General Counsel; The E.W. Scripps Company; 312 Walnut Street, Suite 2800, Cincinnati, OH 45202; (513) 977-3000; dave.giles@scripps.com.

(C)              If you are a copyright owner (or authorized to act on behalf of the copyright owner) and believe that your work’s copyright has been infringed, please report your notice of infringement to us by providing our Designated Agent with a written notification of claimed infringement that includes substantially the following:

(i)                 A physical or electronic signature of a person authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed.

(ii)               Identification of the copyrighted work claimed to have been infringed, or, if multiple copyrighted works at a single online site are covered by a single notification, a representative list of such works at that site.

(iii)             Identification of the material that is claimed to be infringing or to be the subject of infringing activity and that is to be removed or access to which is to be disabled, and information reasonably sufficient to permit us to locate the material.

(iv)             Information reasonably sufficient to permit us to contact you, such as an address, telephone number, and, if available, an electronic mail address at which you may be contacted.

(v)               A statement that you have a good faith belief that use of the material in the manner complained of is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law.

(vi)             A statement that the information in the notification is accurate, and under penalty of perjury, that you are authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed.

We will investigate notices of copyright infringement and take appropriate actions under the DMCA. Inquiries that do not follow this procedure may not receive a response.

13.              CHOICE OF LAW; JURISDICTION AND VENUE

These Terms of Use shall be construed in accordance with the laws of the State of Tennessee without regard to its conflict of laws rules.  Any legal proceedings against Company that may arise out of, relate to, or be in any way connected with our Services or these Terms of Use shall be brought exclusively in the state and federal courts located in Nashville, Tennessee and you waive any jurisdictional, venue, or inconvenient forum objections to such courts.

14.              DISPUTE RESOLUTION

(A)           Each party agrees to first contact the other with any disputes and provide a written description of the problem, all relevant documents/information and the proposed resolution. You agree to contact us with disputes by sending notice to:  Insert name and address.   We will contact you based on the contact information you have provided us.

(B)           If after 30 days the parties are unable to resolve any dispute raised under the previous provision, the dispute may be submitted to arbitration consistent with this Section.  The parties understand that they would have had a right or opportunity to litigate disputes through a court and to have a judge or jury decide their case, but they choose to have any disputes resolved through arbitration.

(C)       Each party agrees that any claim or dispute between such parties, and any claim by either party against any agent, employee, successor, or assign of the other, including, to the full extent permitted by applicable law, third parties who are not signatories to this agreement, whether related to this agreement or otherwise, including past, present, and future claims and disputes, and including any dispute as to the validity or applicability of this arbitration clause, shall be resolved by binding arbitration administered by the JAMS under its rules and procedures in effect when the claim is filed. The rules and procedures and other information, including information on fees, may be obtained from JAMS’ website (www.jamsadr.com) or by calling JAMS at 949-224-1810.

(D)           Each party is entering into this arbitration agreement in connection with a transaction involving interstate commerce.  Accordingly, this arbitration agreement and any resulting proceedings shall be governed by the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”), 9 U.S.C. §§ 1-16. Any award by the arbitrator(s) may be entered as a judgment in any court having jurisdiction.

(E)           Exception to Arbitrate. Either party may bring qualifying claims in small claims court. Further, pursuant to the “NO CLASS ACTIONS” section below, each party agrees that any arbitration will be solely between you and Company, not as part of a classwide claim (i.e., not brought on behalf of or together with another individual’s claim). If for any reason any court or arbitrator holds that this NO CLASS ACTION restriction is unconscionable or unenforceable, then our agreement to arbitrate does not apply and the classwide dispute must be brought in court.

15.              NO CLASS ACTIONS

TO THE EXTENT ALLOWED BY LAW, COMPANY AND YOU EACH WAIVE ANY RIGHT TO PURSUE DISPUTES ON A CLASSWIDE BASIS; THAT IS, TO EITHER JOIN A CLAIM WITH THE CLAIM OF ANY OTHER PERSON OR ENTITY, OR ASSERT A CLAIM IN A REPRESENTATIVE CAPACITY ON BEHALF OF ANYONE ELSE IN ANY LAWSUIT, ARBITRATION OR OTHER PROCEEDING.

16.               NO TRIAL BY JURY

TO THE EXTENT ALLOWED BY LAW, EACH PARTY WAIVES ANY RIGHT TO TRIAL BY JURY IN ANY LAWSUIT, ARBITRATION OR OTHER PROCEEDING.

17.              AMENDMENT; ADDITIONAL TERMS

(A)             We reserve the right in our sole discretion and at any time and for any reason, to modify or discontinue any aspect or feature of the Services or to modify these Terms of Use.  In addition, we reserve the right to provide you with operating rules or additional terms that may govern your use of the Services generally, unique parts of the Services, or both (“Additional Terms”).  Any Additional Terms that we may provide to you will be incorporated by reference into these Terms of Use.  To the extent any Additional Terms conflict with these Terms of Use, the Additional Terms will control.

(B)              Modifications to these Terms of Use or Additional Terms will be effective immediately upon notice, either by posting on the Services or by notification by email or conventional mail.  It is your responsibility to review the Terms of Use and the Services from time to time for any changes or Additional Terms.  Your access and use of any the Services following any modification of these Terms of Use or the provision of Additional Terms will signify your assent to and acceptance of the same.  If you object to any subsequent revision to the Terms of Use or to any Additional Terms, immediately discontinue use of the Services and, if applicable, terminate your Membership.

18.              MISCELLANEOUS

(A)             No waiver by either party of any breach or default hereunder shall be deemed to be a waiver of any preceding or subsequent breach or default. The section headings used herein are for convenience only and shall not be given any legal import.

(B)              Except where specifically stated otherwise (e.g., the “Exception to Arbitrate” provision above), if any part of these Terms of Use is unlawful or unenforceable for any reason, we both agree that only that part of the Terms of Use shall be stricken and that the remaining terms in the Terms of Use shall not be affected.  So, for example, if a provision in these terms is found to be unenforceable, we agree an arbitrator (or, if permitted, a court) shall only strike that provision and that the remaining terms of these Terms of Use shall remain in force.

(C)              These Terms of Use (including the Privacy Policy and any Additional Terms incorporated by reference) constitute the entire agreement of the parties with respect to the subject matter hereof, and supersede all previous written or oral agreements between us with respect to such subject matter.

(D)             You may not assign these Terms of Use or assign any rights or delegate any obligations hereunder, in whole or in part, without our prior written consent.  Any such purported assignment or delegation by you without the appropriate prior written consent will be null and void and of no force and effect.  We may assign these Terms of Use or any rights hereunder without your consent and without notice.