News Feature | June 19, 2017

Sen. Schumer: 'We're Fed Up' With DoD On PFCs

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome,

Lawmakers are putting heat on the Department of Defense (DoD) to address water contamination linked to military bases in their states and districts.

“We’re fed up with DoD — plain and simple,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, per the Times-Herald Record. “It is infuriating because people’s health is at risk and the water supply is at risk.”

Perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) from firefighting foam used in military training exercises are contaminating water supplies near military bases across the country.

The military is in the midst of testing for contamination at hundreds of sites across the country. The effort to test nearly 400 sites has cost over $150 million, but critics say it has been "slow and seemingly disjointed," according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Now, Sen. Schumer is speaking out about the way the military is performing its tests. Schumer is the top Democrat in the Senate.

“Schumer railed against the Department of Defense for undertaking its own tests of contamination at Stewart Air National Guard Base instead of using state results showing the base is responsible for the toxic chemical found in the City of Newburgh’s main water supply,” the Times-Herald Record reported.

“The military claims that its own soil and water samples are needed to confirm the presence and source of perfluorooctane sulfonate, or PFOS, at the base before an environmental cleanup can begin,” the report said.

Schumer has argued that the DoD is delaying a process that could occur much more quickly.

“Schumer says the DoD and Air Force are not prevented by federal law from using state results and are delaying a much-watched cleanup process that began when the state added the base to its Superfund list of contaminated properties last August,” the report said.

Schumer is not the only senator lobbying the DoD on the PFC issue. Senator Bob Casey, D-PA, is looking for answers on what the military knew and when.

"My constituents deserve to know when the Department of Defense had information to suggest that the use of (firefighting foam) had adverse impacts on health and the environment," Casey wrote in a letter to the DoD, per The Intelligencer.

The U.S. EPA issued a health advisory last year about exposure to perfluorinated compounds. Research has tied them to cancer.