Read the full article by Michael Sol Warren (NJ.com)
“For decades, the U.S. military used a special foam to fight fires on bases around the Garden State. That foam, and the toxic chemicals inside it, slowly seeped into the surrounding area and throughout groundwater supplies, according to New Jersey authorities, compromising the safety of nearby drinking water.
Now, New Jersey wants Uncle Sam to clean up the mess.
On Thursday, the state Attorney General’s office and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection announced a lawsuit against the federal government over long-standing water pollution on and near military bases in the Garden State.
The state blames the military for long-standing use of aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) for firefighting operations at the bases. AFFF contains toxic chemicals, including perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA).
PFOS and PFOA are just two of the thousands of chemicals that make up a family of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). These substances, prized for their nonstick properties, are found in a variety of products, from nonstick cookware and flame resistant furniture to fast food wrappers. The chemicals made AFFF an effective tool in fighting fires that fed on jet fuel.
But one of PFAS most defining traits — their extreme resistance to breaking down naturally — has allowed the chemicals to build-up in the environment and accumulate in human bodies. Today, PFAS are linked to serious health problems like cancer, immune system issues and other health effects, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Recent research has found that people with high levels of PFAS in their bodies are less responsive to vaccines.
The complaint focuses on Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in Burlington and Ocean counties. More than 45,000 people, from service members and their families to civilian contractors, live and work on and around the Joint Base. The total population of towns surrounding the base is about 600,000.
‘With today’s lawsuit, we are inviting the federal government to finally take the risks posed by PFAS chemicals as seriously as New Jersey does, and to take appropriate steps to protect the health of military and civilian families who live near our military bases,’ New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said in a statement…”