Two families who live near two closed bases outside of Philadelphia can resume a lawsuit seeking to force the Navy to cover the cost of a medical monitoring program needed to assess the health impact of their years-long reliance on groundwater contaminated with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), following a federal appeals court ruling Tuesday. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit in Philadelphia reversed a portion of a July 2017 U.S. District Court decision, allowing the families to pursue their claim that the Navy fund a trust to cover a private party medical monitoring program, reported the Philly Voice. The appeals court, however, upheld the remainder of the district court’s decision, which dismissed the families’ request for a health assessment as it represented a “challenge” to the Navy’s ongoing cleanup effort under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA).
The two families used private wells for their drinking water. Testing showed that each had elevated levels of PFAS believed to stem from past use of firefighting foam at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Willow Grove and Naval Air Warfare Center Warminster. Following the discovery that the wells were contaminated, the Navy provided the families with bottled water before connecting them to public water supplies. In both cases, though, the municipal sources also were contaminated with PFAS.
Don’t miss the 2018 Base Redevelopment Forum next week in Portland, Maine! The event will include a special focus on how the military services and communities are tackling PFAS issues and collaborating to move forward.