Federal Funding Uncertain for Health Studies of Water Contamination at Philadelphia-Area Bases

Federal Funding Uncertain for Health Studies of Water Contamination at Philadelphia-Area Bases

Federal health officials said they would support a program of blood testing and health monitoring for residents who rely on drinking water contaminated by the use of firefighting foams at two closed bases outside of Philadelphia, Sen. Robert Casey (D-Pa.) said last week.

How the effort, estimated to cost $20 million to $30 million over five years, would be funded is still an open question, however. DOD has said federal law prohibits it from covering the cost. At a meeting involving officials from several federal agencies and lawmakers, representatives from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said they would work with Congress to obtain funding.

Pennsylvania State Rep. Todd Stephens (R) said the agency representatives appeared to recognize the importance of health studies because similar contamination has been found in drinking water supplies near installations around the country, reported Philly.com.

“One of the things that they acknowledged is that this is an exploding national issue,” Stephens said. “They really would like to ultimately conduct a national study.”

Since 2014, nearly half of public drinking wells and dozens of private wells serving residents in Horsham, Warrington, and Warminster have been shut down as a result of contamination from perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) stemming from the use of firefighting foam at two closed bases, Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Willow Grove and Naval Air Warfare Center Warminster.

At a separate meeting, three Philadelphia-area congressmen met with Maureen Sullivan, deputy assistant secretary of defense for environment, safety and occupational health, to discuss their requests for the Navy and Air National Guard to provide additional funding to address the contamination. The lawmakers want the Navy to cover the cost of additional filtration systems on public and private wells, infrastructure improvements required to deliver drinking water from nearby water authorities and funding to offset water rate increases experienced by local customers, according to a press release.

Reps. Brendan Boyle (D), Patrick Meehan (R) and Michael Fitzpatrick (R) also requested an update on the Pentagon’s plans for addressing firefighting foam contamination nationwide, as well as their legislation to clarify DOD’s authority to fund blood testing and health studies in affected communities.

Dan Cohen
Dan Cohen
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