A recent report prepared by the Pentagon in response to a congressional mandate reveals that more than 100 active and closed installations across all four services have reported elevated levels of the contaminants PFOS and PFOA in either their drinking water systems or groundwater supplies. At 36 installations, drinking water systems tested above the Environmental Protection Agency’s guidelines for the chemicals, reported Army Times. Ninety installations reported contaminant levels above EPA’s lifetime health advisories following groundwater testing at on- and off-base locations, according to the March 2018 report.
As of August 2017, DOD identified 401 active and BRAC installations in the United States with at least one area where there was a known or suspected release of PFOS or PFOA. The contamination is believed to stem from the use of firefighting foam.
The department quickly moved to address the 24 drinking water systems that were contaminated in which it managed the water supply. At 12 others, however, a vendor or local utility provides drinking water. Cleaning up contaminated groundwater supplies, though, will take years and cost an estimated $2 billion, according to Maureen Sullivan, DOD’s deputy assistant secretary for environment, safety and occupational health.
Air Force photo by Grace Nichols