News Feature | June 29, 2016

Navy Bases Contaminated Drinking Water With PFOA

Dominique 'Peak' Johnson

By Peak Johnson

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.

NBC reported that earlier in the year, residents in Warminster, Horsham, and Warrington were offered free bottled water by the government after the U.S. EPA issued new guidelines for what they had considered safe levels of two unregulated chemicals, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS),  in the public water supply. Those chemicals were in firefighting foam used at Willow Grove Naval Air Station and Warminster’s Naval Air Warfare Center.

Some homeowners, according to Philly.com, may have to use bottled water for up to a year; others have already made the switch by choice.

Public awareness was high last month when federal regulators issued new and stricter water quality standards that called into question “drinking water that had previously been deemed safe.”

Philly.com reported that lawmakers had said that the federal government should arrange blood screenings for nearly 70,000 residents. The Navy has already spent $19 million on its investigation and cleanup, which could take 20 years or longer. The Air Force, also involved, has dedicated $8.3 million so far.

Officials have said that the public wells that are still operating in and around the former stations in Warminster and Willow Grove meet today's safety standards.

Though no one is aware of how much of the contaminated drinking water may have already beenconsumed.

"I drank it for 25 years," Hope Grosse, 51, told Philly.com.. "How long is it going to take to get out of my body?"

Concerns about contaminated groundwater on and around the military facilities have grown in recent years as more information has been revealed about the harmful effects of PFOS/PFOA toxicity.

USA News reported that the military plans to examine hundreds of sites nationwide to determine whether chemicals from foam used to fight fires have contaminated groundwater and spread to drinking water.

For similar stories visit Water Online Source Water Contamination Solutions Center.

Image credit: "141009-N-CW598-005 October 9, 2014," U.S. Pacific Fleet © 2014, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/