Navy to Begin Drinking Water Testing

SILVERDALE, Wash. – The Navy will begin testing drinking water wells next month in and around Naval Air Station (NAS) Whidbey Island Ault Field and the Outlying Landing Field (OLF) in Coupeville as part of the its commitment to ensuring drinking water supplies are safe. These tests will be at no cost to the well owners or users. This is part of Navy’s ongoing testing of drinking water that is currently taking place at and near Navy installations across the Nation.

Navy officials met today with staff members from Washington State’s congressional offices on Capitol Hill to discuss a variety of subjects, where officials shared the Navy’s current plan to test drinking water supplies around NAS Whidbey Island for perfluoroalkyl substances, aka PFAS. Tomorrow Navy leadership will meet with local officials in the northwest region.

PFAS are man-made chemicals persistent in the environment that are not absorbed well in soil and could migrate to groundwater. PFAS have been used for many years to make products that resist heat, stains, grease and water, and have been used in a variety of products and substances, such as non-stick pans; water resistant textiles and sprays with water resistant properties.

In May 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued lifetime health advisory levels for two PFAS, specifically perfluorooctane sulfonate, PFOS and perfluorooctanoic acid, PFOA, at 70 parts per trillion, individually and combined. While there are no EPA regulations for these compounds, the EPA established these lifetime health advisory levels to offer a margin of protection for all Americans throughout their life from potential adverse health effects resulting from exposure to PFOA and PFOS in drinking water.

The most common historical Navy use of these chemicals has been as a fire fighting foam (AFFF) used on Navy installations. AFFF is the most effective way to put out petroleum-based fires, such as an aircraft accident.

In June 2016, the Navy issued a policy to identify areas of potential release of these materials to the environment. As part of this policy, the Navy is testing for PFOS and PFOA in and around NAS Whidbey Island.

The Navy will provide alternate drinking water (typically bottled water) for residents if their drinking water concentrations exceed the EPA lifetime health advisory levels for PFOA and/or PFOS.

Next month, the Navy will hold public meetings to keep the community informed and will contact well owners in the sample area. Public meetings will be held in Oak Harbor and Coupeville in order for citizens to share their concerns and ask questions of public health experts.   The Navy is committed to sharing additional information as it becomes available throughout the testing process.

More information about the Navy’s PFAS initiative and drinking water testing program may be found at: http://www.secnav.navy.mil/eie/pages/pfc-pfas.aspx.

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