“Military officials say there are no current plans to test fish near Delaware Valley military bases for perfluorinated chemicals, despite a recent reportfrom New Jersey stating humans could face health risks from consuming fish contaminated with the chemicals.
But Navy officials in Pennsylvania said they’ll continue to work with regulators to ‘evaluate’ potential ways which humans could be exposed to the chemicals.
In mid-July, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection released fish consumption advisories based on a study of the state’s fish for perfluorinated compounds, or PFAS. The toxic chemicals are being found in water systems across the country after being used for decades in a variety of consumer and industrial products. They were also used in military-grade firefighting foams, and have been found in large amounts at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey, as well as a trio of former and current bases in Bucks and Montgomery counties in Pennsylvania.
The chemicals are not regulated at the federal level. That leaves states such as New Jersey to conduct much of their own research into potential health risks. As a part of that effort, New Jersey studied fish in about a dozen lakes and creeks near sites of suspected PFAS contamination to assess how much of the chemicals had been built up in their bodies. Lakes near the joint base showed the highest levels of the chemicals of anywhere in the state, leading the NJDEP to recommend limiting fish consumption to just one meal a season or year, depending on the species.
The study raised the specter that humans could be exposed to the chemicals through routes other than drinking water contamination, which is the military’s current focus. However, officials said there are no current plans to test additional fish in nearby waterways in either state.
‘For off-base areas, sampling at this time is limited to drinking water, and surface water only to the extent that it becomes a drinking water source,’ wrote Maj. Brian Wagner, chief of public affairs for the joint base, in an email. ‘Concerns about the consumption of fish from local streams should be directed to the EPA, local/state public health departments, or DEP regarding any advisories on fish consumption.’…
In 2017, joint base officials said they would not test the North Branch of the Rancocas Creek in Burlington County, despite their own studies showing a stream running from the base and discharging into the creek contained high levels of the chemicals. The creek was not among the waterways whose fish was sampled by the NJDEP…
In Pennsylvania, Navy public affairs officer Bill Franklin left things more open ended. While Franklin did not say the Navy has any plans to test fish near the former Naval Air Warfare Center Warminster or Naval Air Station-Joint Reserve Base Willow Grove, he said the Navy continues to work with regulators as they investigate contamination…
No fish have yet been tested for PFAS in Pennsylvania, either by the military, PADEP or the EPA. State officials said earlier this week that the DEP, Pennsylvania Department of Health, Department of Agriculture, and Fish and Boat Commission were discussing this issue and would consider the New Jersey advisories at an upcoming meeting.”
Read the full article by Kyle Bagenstose