List of Military Installations Dealing With PFAS Chemical Contamination Expected to Grow
WASHINGTON – The number of U.S. military installations contaminated with potentially cancer-causing chemical compounds found in firefighting foam is expected to rise as a Defense Department task force continues to assess the problem, the Pentagon said last week.
During a roundtable with reporters, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Sustainment Bob McMahon said he expects the number of bases identified as contaminated will grow “as we begin to get a better understanding and better characterization of where we are.”
The problem stems from per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, also known as PFAS chemicals, which are found in a number of industrial and household products, including firefighting foam.
A number of studies have linked PFAS chemicals to birth defects, infertility, developmental delays and some cancers.
The Defense Department began widespread testing for contamination in drinking water at its facilities in 2016, followed by testing of groundwater on and near military installations.
Last year, it announced that of 524 installations examined, 401 have some level of contamination. Twenty-four of those had drinking water contamination at levels higher than the Environmental Protection Agency’s lifetime health advisory of 70 parts per trillion.
In July, Defense Secretary Mark Esper directed the Pentagon to establish a task force to study the chemicals and the potential impact they have on military personnel and the communities surrounding domestic military facilities.
Then, on Sept. 13, the nonprofit Environmental Working Group released a study suggesting as many as 90 additional current and former Army and Army National Guard installations had higher levels of ground or drinking water contamination than previously indicated.
The Defense Department task force will look at the health effects of contamination, science-supported standards for exposure and cleanup, and how best to coordinate inter-agency collaboration to address issues found.
McMahon said to date the task force has generated 40 recommendations and goals, from short-term fixes to long-term solutions to address PFAS-related issues.
He also said no military personnel or family members whose drinking water comes from Defense Department-managed water sources are consuming levels of PFAS higher than the lifetime health advisory limit.
The focus on PFAS chemicals comes as House and Senate negotiators work to hammer out a final deal on the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act — the defense spending bill.
Both the House and Senate versions of the bill include provisions to restrict PFAS discharges into water and end the military’s use of PFAS in firefighting foam and food packaging.
On Monday, the Environmental Working Group published an editorial on its website, telling supporters it is especially important that the NDAA would designate PFAS as “hazardous substances.”
“This would trigger a higher level of reporting requirements, kick-start the cleanup process and mandate that the polluting companies – not taxpayers – pay for the cleanup, instead of pointing fingers at each other and avoiding responsibility,” the editorial says.
In The News
Colin Powell, former Joint Chiefs chairman and secretary of state, has died from COVID-19 complications, his family said Monday. He... Read More
Colin Powell, former Joint Chiefs chairman and secretary of state, has died from COVID-19 complications, his family said Monday. He was 84. In an announcement on social media, the family said Powell had been fully vaccinated and was treated at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. ... Read More
WASHINGTON -- The war in Afghanistan is officially over but the terrorism threat to the United States continues, according to... Read More
WASHINGTON -- The war in Afghanistan is officially over but the terrorism threat to the United States continues, according to military commanders who testified to the U.S. Senate Tuesday. They acknowledged that the chaotic U.S. military withdrawal was disappointing after 20 years of war. A suicide... Read More
WASHINGTON -- Members of the House might not agree on much these days, but one thing they do seem to... Read More
WASHINGTON -- Members of the House might not agree on much these days, but one thing they do seem to be in agreement on is that passing the annual defense spending authorization falls into the same rarified category as mom and apple pie. On Thursday, the... Read More
BANGKOK (AP) — With increasingly strong talk in support of Taiwan, a new deal to supply Australia with nuclear submarines,... Read More
BANGKOK (AP) — With increasingly strong talk in support of Taiwan, a new deal to supply Australia with nuclear submarines, and the launch of a European strategy for greater engagement in the Indo-Pacific, the U.S. and its allies are becoming more assertive in their approach toward... Read More
WASHINGTON -- President Joe Biden spoke with French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday to discuss the United States' new strategic... Read More
WASHINGTON -- President Joe Biden spoke with French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday to discuss the United States' new strategic partnership with the U.K. and Australia. Australia is set to construct eight nuclear-powered submarines through its alliance with the U.S. and the U.K., dashing the country's... Read More
WASHINGTON -- The Blue Dog Coalition of House Democrats has endorsed a slate of amendments to the National Defense Authorization... Read More
WASHINGTON -- The Blue Dog Coalition of House Democrats has endorsed a slate of amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act. These amendments include measures that the Blue Dogs contend would strengthen support for U.S. service members as they transition to civilian life; counter the Chinese... Read More