The Pentagon’s inspector general is evaluating DOD’s use of PFAS chemicals that has seeped into water supplies of communities across the nation, including many near military installations, the Washington Post reported Tuesday.
The military’s watchdog agency will assess the use of the chemicals and may address what DOD knew about dangers posed by PFAS, how well DOD has communicated those risks and how soon it will phase out their use, according to the report.
The man-made contaminants, known as perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl chemicals, or PFAS, have for years been used in specialized firefighting foams on military bases, as On Base previously reported.
“There may have been an awareness of the dangers of PFAS as threatening to human health long before the Department of Defense decided to do anything about it, and I think that’s fundamentally problematic,” Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.) told the Washington Post. “The mission of the Defense Department is to protect Americans.”
The IG office’s “evaluation” comes after a House bipartisan July letter from Kildee and Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), and the Pentagon has also initiated its own task force to address the contamination , as On Base also previously reported.
“We are concerned about the public health impact of PFAS on not only service members and their families living on or near military bases, but also on citizens in surrounding communities,” Kildee wrote in requesting the review, according to The Hill.
“It appears the scope of the problem far outweighs the current allocated resources and focus of the DOD, despite Congress’ attempt to provide additional resources for clean-up,” the request letter said.
“We reviewed your July request and decided to initiate an evaluation related to PFAS concerns,” Michael Zola, DOD’s assistant inspector general for legislative affairs and communications, wrote in an Oct. 7 letter back to lawmakers, according to The Post.
The scope of the IG evaluation should form early next year, though it’s unclear when it will be done, The Post said.
“There’s not a real timeline associated with it,” said Dwrena Allen, DOD spokeswoman for the Office of Inspector General.