Related — Contaminated basewater database

“In the March report, DoD named hundreds of water sites on bases around the world where some type of water source tested for higher-than-recommended levels of perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) or perflourooctanoic acid (PFOA)…

The report identified water sites such as an on-base drinking system; off-base drinking system and multiple water monitoring wells drilled on or near military property.

In a follow-up interview, Maureen Sullivan, deputy assistant secretary of Defense, Environment, Safety & Occupational Health, further explained the data and addressed key questions…

Some of these foams have been used for decades. Did DoD ever test for this before, like in the ‘70s or the ‘80s?

‘No, because there was no indication from EPA that they had concerns about it being in the drinking water. It was just a foam that we used,’ Sullivan said. ‘The science on these two compounds really wasn’t emerging until much later. It wasn’t until EPA came out with [a 2012 monitoring rule] that they said “we’re interested in finding out if it’s pervasive in the drinking water.” So that was our first indication that they were interested.’

From a DoD perspective, it seems there’s been some internal awareness, as early as the ‘90s?

‘Correct. That was about the availability. So under a separate part of EPA – under the toxic substance control act, they have the authority on compounds entering commerce. They were evaluating whether or not they wanted to restrict the compound entering commerce. So we [DoD] were interested, if the compound was not going to be available in commerce, whether we would have the compound we needed to meet our firefighting needs.’

What are the long-term fixes?

Sullivan stressed that each site is different. Now, each location will be added to the EPA’s Superfund list. The long-term fix will include Preliminary Assessments and Site Inspections (called “PA/SI” in the database.) The studies will ultimately result in remedial actions including cleanup that could take up to a decade or more to complete.

Sullivan also explained the multiple types of contaminated sites DoD identified in the report and explained the different types of actions taken. Each base has slightly different solutions.

Sites of contamination:

Drinking water on base, where water was supplied by DoD: In these cases DoD has taken actions to cut off the contaminated drinking water supply from the population. For example, the database reports that the Army’s Belmont Armory in Michigan has a contaminated drinking water source. Bottled water has been provided to armory personnel and the base is looking into filtration systems.

Drinking water on base, water not supplied by DOD: In cases where DOD contracts water, such as from a local municipality, it has worked with the provider on a fix. At U.S. Army Garrison Benelux, in Belgium, for example. personnel are using bottled water until a longer-term fix can be found.”

Read the full article by Tara Copp