Two wells bordering the base’s southern edge have been found to have potentially harmful levels of PFAS from firefighting foams used on the base. Chemical studies show that this “forever chemical” can have harmful impacts on health, from cancer to immune and endocrine system deficiencies and more.
The most common Navy activity that could have resulted in the historical release of PFOA, PFOS, and other PFAS to the environment is the use of firefighting foam (specifically aqueous film-forming foam, or AFFF) for testing, training, firefighting,and other life-saving emergency responses. PFAS compounds may be present in the soil and/or groundwater at NBK Bangor as a result of historical uses of AFFF. Because of this historical use, there is potential for PFOA, PFOS, and other PFAS to be in the groundwater on base, and it may also be present in nearby off-base drinking water wells located in the direction that the groundwater flows away from the base within the designated sampling areas.Navy PFAS Fact Sheet – Bangor
At Kitsap, the Navy sampled 292 wells. Of those, 83 showed some level of PFAS, while 2 showed more than 70 parts per trillion. Many health experts contend that threshhold is still way too high, and should be closer to 5ppt or even 1ppt. As has been the case with other bases, the Navy is now required to supply bottled water to those residents indefinitely.
The Navy intends to expand the areas of testing in and around the base. This includes outreach to over 1400 community residences so far. Concerns about cross contamination with public water supplies is are also rising. Nearby water districts are testing at multiple intervals to ensure no dangerous levels are or become present.
It is the duration of exposure and cumulative build-up of “forever chemicals” such as PFAS in the human bloodstream that is the most concerning. But what will be done with PFAS across the system remains up in the air. Why? According to the Navy, there are no rules (yet) for PFAS.
Relevant Links and Research:
- Kitsap Sun Article: https://www.kitsapsun.com/story/news/2020/09/28/navy-expands-water-testing-after-wells-near-bangor-found-contamination/3509656001/
- Navy Fact Sheet – Bangor: https://www.civilianexposure.org/pdf/Civilian-Exposure-Bangor-PFAS-NavyFactsheet.pdf
- Stars & Stripes Article: https://www.stripes.com/news/us/two-water-wells-near-naval-base-kitsap-bangor-wash-contaminated-with-industrial-chemical-1.646985
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