Contaminated Water Military Bases: Are Sufferers Getting Answers?

by Sara Jerome, originally posted on May 31, 2016


he U.S. Navy is failing to satisfy former staffers who want answers about health conditions potentially caused by water contamination on bases.

The Navy held an open house in May to meet with people affected by water contamination at the now shuttered Willow Grove Naval Air Station and Warminster Naval Air Warfare Center in Pennsylvania.

“Many who attended the event at Horsham Township Community Center were hoping to learn if their water is really safe to drink and whether a burgeoning number of life-threatening health problems among former staff are connected to unregulated chemicals that make up firefighting foam used by the facilities,” NBC 10 reported.

Officials stress that municipal water in local communities is safe, although some private and public wells in the area have had high levels of perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs), PA Wire News reported.

“Water is a very serious issue, people take it very seriously and the Navy, EPA and Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection as well as the municipal townships that are providing water take it very seriously as well,” said Gregory Preston, director of the Navy’s base closure program management office, per NBC 10.

“We believe that the water supply that Warminster Township, Horsham Township and Warrington Township, that they’re providing safe drinking water.”

The Navy argue that, in the past, it didn’t know what it didn’t know about PFCs.

“In simple language, the Navy’s stance is that it didn’t know PFOA/PFOS were dangerous until this century. And once the EPA determined these compounds were suspect, they had no way at that moment in time to detect the chemicals in water. It took researchers years — until 2012 — to develop an accurate lab test,” NBC 10 reported.

Valerie Colonna Secrease was among those who attended the open house.

She came “to advocate for herself and other people who worked at Willow Grove and have since developed cancer and other ailments,” NBC10 reported.

The EPA issued a new guideline in May about PFC exposure as various cities wage high-profile battles against the chemicals, including Hoosick Falls, NY, and factory towns across the country. PFCs are industrial chemicals. Research has indicated that they may cause cancer, the Associated Press reported.

“I think the number one message we should get out there is that if you are a customer of Warminster Municipal Authority and drinking their water, you are safe. The water is safe, it will continue to be safe and you won’t have any issues,” Greg Preston, director of Navy Base Realignment and Closure program, said per PA Wire News.

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