News Feature | May 4, 2017

Drinking Water Linked To 400 Military Bases To Be Tested For Contamination

Dominique 'Peak' Johnson

By Peak Johnson

navyregular

Drinking water contamination via military bases is nothing new.

Over the past few months, base after base has seemingly been tied to firefighting foam that has leached the chemicals PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonate) and PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) into drinking water supplies.

Just north of Philadelphia, two former Navy sites have been linked to drinking water tainted by harmful chemicals. Since 2014 almost half of public and private drinking wells in Horsham, Warminster, and Warrington, PA, have been shut down because of contamination.

Now, Philly.com is reporting that “Contamination from former or current military installations, including in Horsham, Warrington, and Warminster, has ignited a nationwide review of water on or around bases that used a firefighting foam containing toxic chemicals.”

In the Philadelphia suburbs, about 70,000 residents have had to deal with tainted water coming from their taps.

According to an analysis of data by The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News, the “military is now testing nearly 400 bases and has confirmed water contamination at or near more than three dozen.”

Though there has been $150 million spent to address the ever-growing contamination problem, it has taken some time to fix. Philly.com reported that the Air Force “has completed sampling at nearly all of its targeted bases; the Navy, barely 10 percent.” The Army, however, has not even started.

According to numbers that Philly.com obtained from the Air Force, Navy, and Army, “...states from New Hampshire to Colorado have found high levels of chemicals in drinking wells. So far, water contamination has been found near 27 military bases in 16 states.

In March, current and former residents of Bucks and Montgomery Counties in Pennsylvania joined together in a mass tort lawsuit against six manufacturers of firefighting foams, claiming personal injury. A writ of summons was filed in February in Montgomery County court on behalf of the 461 individuals who either had worked or served at a trio of military bases.

The Bucks County Courier Times reported that “the foams are believed to have been used for decades at military bases in the area, and also are believed to be the source of regional drinking water contamination by unregulated chemicals PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonate) and PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid).”

Earlier this year, “under co-operative agreements signed with neighboring townships, the Navy has paid to connect homes with contaminated private wells to public water systems.”

Navy officials had said during that time that the department agreed to pay $9.3 million for clean-up operations in Warminster, Bucks County.

To read more about PFOA and PFOS contamination visit Water Online’s Source Water Contamination Solutions Center.

Image credit: "Fire Extinguisher, December 2005" Sharyn Morrow © 2005 used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/