Read the full article by Asaf Shalev (Monterey County Weekly)

“The U.S. military’s use of firefighting foam containing ‘forever chemicals’ known as PFAS has left a legacy of toxic contamination at hundreds of bases nationwide. These chemicals were introduced to Monterey County soil and groundwater when Fort Ord was still an active installation, but the military says that the risk to public health here is low.

‘Fortunately, compared to other [Department of Defense] sites, the presence of PFAS is not that extensive,” says William Collins, environmental coordinator of the military’s local Base Realignment and Closure office. ‘The chemicals were not frequently used here and not in large quantities.’

Collins’ conclusion is the result of an ongoing technical investigation initiated in 2017, as concerns about the environmental and health impacts of the chemicals began to swell around the country.

The family of chemicals known as per – and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, are made in laboratories and do not occur in nature. They are characterized by strong bonds that never break down, earning them the name “forever chemicals.” For the military, PFAS proved invaluable in suppressing fires caused by aircraft accidents and training exercises.

These chemicals are not only persistent in the environment but also hazardous to human health. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control, Environmental Protection Agency and others have found links between PFAS and autoimmune diseases, thyroid disease, kidney and testicular cancer and endocrine disruption.

The military and certain private interests have pushed back against attempts to regulate PFAS as but two of the members of the chemical group, PFOA and PFOS, may soon become restricted under the U.S. Safe Drinking Water Act.

The investigation into the danger of these chemicals at Fort Ord is being carried out by Ahtna Environmental, Inc., under a multi-million-dollar contract with the U.S. Army. In February, Ahtna published a 1,345-page draft report, which is being reviewed by the EPA and the California State Water Resources Control Board. It’s a historical review of activities that took place at Fort Ord, plus the results of some groundwater monitoring…”