Read the full article by Pat Elder (Military Poisons)

“Often, federal lands are returned to local jurisdictions with little or no oversight regarding dangerous contamination. In Maryland, a popular park and home of the Children’s Theater of Annapolis was once a Navy weapons testing center.

Six years ago, the Navy informed the Environmental Health Office of Anne Arundel County, Maryland that groundwater at Bay Head Park was seriously contaminated with PFAS. See the March 20, 2017 letter and examine the Groundwater sampling results from 11/28/2016,

particularly Sample ID # DPT-16-31-GW-19-23:

Results are in micrograms per liter or ug/L. 

ug/L = parts per billion, ppb.

ppb = 1,000 parts per trillion, ppt.

Compound          Level in ppb         Level in ppt

PFBS                    1.1                        1,100
PFOS                    42                         42,000
PFOA                     28                         28,000

Total                     71.1                      71,100

The current EPA Interim Lifetime Health Advisory for PFOA in groundwater and drinking water is .004 ppt. (28,000 / .004 = 7,000,000) The groundwater in Annapolis is 7 million times over the EPA threshold.

The current EPA interim Lifetime Health Advisory for PFOS in groundwater and drinking water is .02 ppt. (42,000 / .02 = 2,100,000) The groundwater in Annapolis is 2.1 million times over the EPA threshold.

We have a public health crisis caused by the military and it is not being addressed by public health officials in Maryland.  

The Navy is not telling us the entire story. The groundwater is likely to be contaminated with many additional PFAS compounds than the three they’re reporting. Surface water draining from Bay Head Park was found to contain 18 separate PFAS compounds while PFOS and PFOA account for less than 29% of total PFAS contamination. We’ll examine the surface water figures below.

The Navy is only providing us with a snapshot of the true extent of the contamination below the ground’s surface.  All 68 of the analytical results reported by the Navy are from depths of 16 to 35 feet below the surface. PFAS tend to sink into the ground over time. We don’t know the levels of contamination in the very shallow surficial aquifer, and we don’t how bad it is below 35 feet.

The former Bay Head Road Annex was founded as The Bay Head Road Annex Launch Area, designated W-26 Nike Battery. It was used by the Army for missile operations from 1954 until 1969.

After Nike Battery deactivation, the facility was used by the Navy to conduct burn tests to determine heat resistant properties of materials for use onboard Navy ships. Materials were burned in a concrete pit and analyzed for off-gas production and fire hazard potential.  These operations occurred from 1972 to 1981.  After that, the Navy used the site for equipment storage, until 1999 when all operations ceased.  It was closed and transferred to Anne Arundel County under the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) in 2004. 

PFAS was used in firefighting foams at the burn pit. The carcinogens migrated in soil and surface water horizontally and vertically to the groundwater and were transported through downgradient groundwater flow to the north/northwest, discharging to the unnamed tributary of the Little Magothy River.

Beginning in November 2006, nine buildings, two former missile launching pads, the burn pad, and the evaporation pond were all demolished and/or removed from the property. The two former missile launching pads have been covered to form a parking lot for the CTA complex. The baseball fields and former septic field have been replaced by three soccer fields, which were completed in September 2008. Permanent light structures were built in April 2009. A children’s playground was constructed in April 2010.

It is frightening to consider that the wind may pick up carcinogenic particles from the soccer fields and the playground and deposit them into the lungs of unsuspecting children. The CDC reported that dust particles containing 16.4 million ppt of PFHxS and 13.9 million ppt of PFOS were found in the dust of the homes of people in Martinsburg, West Virginia. The two compounds topped the list of PFAS contaminants in surface water pouring out of the Shephard Field Air National Guard base. The same is true in Annapolis.

We first became aware of the Navy’s results through a 2018 DOD report mandated by Congress. The Anne Arundel County Health Department has not been forthcoming with the results, despite the ongoing and serious threat to public health.  

See: Addressing Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS) and Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) Maureen Sullivan, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (Environment, Safety & Occupational Health), March 2018.

You can gain an idea of the county’s flat-footed response to the contamination in this Arundel Patriot piece by Victoria Bruce dated May 1, 2018. The Director of Public Works for the City of Annapolis who oversees drinking water said at the time that he had not received notification of the DoD report and was not familiar with the contaminants.

The five-year-old DOD document reports 70,000 ppt of PFOA/PFOS in the groundwater at Bay Head Park near the Children’s Theater of Annapolis. In 54 out of 68 wells tested by the Navy in Annapolis, concentrations of PFAS were found to exceed 70 ppt.  

Although there is a section titled Groundwater and Surface Water in the 2017 Navy report, no analytical results for surface water were provided by the Navy at this time.

Dangerous levels of PFAS are found in surface water and groundwater at the Children’s Theater of Annapolis and Bay Head Park. The heavy flow of carcinogens continues to drain into the Little Magothy River and the Chesapeake Bay while the mainstream media in the region continues to ignore the story.

In July, 2020 the Navy released its Phase I Remedial Investigation Report on the Former Bay Head Road Annex, Naval Surface Warfare Center. Here, they included surface water results from the unnamed stream that empties into the Little Magothy River, as well as measurements in the river.

Sediment and surface water measurements from 2018 are shown in the creek draining from Bay Head Park to the Little Magothy River.

Let’s unpack this. Site ‘SWSD-18-01‘, SWSD, stands for surface water and sediment. The site is located where the stream passes under the bridge at Bay Head Road, heading toward the Little Magothy River. I also took a sample from this location on November 4, 2021.

The Navy reported that the creek bed contained 12 ug/kg of PFOS. That’s 12 micrograms per kilogram or 12 parts per billion, which is the same as 12,000 parts per trillion. It is a dangerously high concentration!  The invertebrates, those creepy crawly things, are severely contaminated. PFOS from sediment are transferred to aquatic organisms, leading to bioaccumulation and trophic biomagnification in aquatic food webs.  Biomagnification means PFOS transfers from lower trophic levels to higher trophic levels within a food web, resulting in a higher concentration in predators.  Everything is poisoned here.  

Perhaps more alarming is the concentration of PFAS in the surface water.  

At SWSD-18-01 the Navy reported these concentrations, shown here in ppt.

PFBS          7.6
PFOS          180
PFOA            55

Total        242.6            

Severe PFAS contamination was reported at this site by the Navy and by Military Poisons. This is where the creek draining Bay Head Park flows toward the Little Magothy River. The Navy reported on 3 compounds. We tested for 55 and reported results on 18.

Bay Head Park – PFAS in the creek by the bridge (ppt)

Military Poisons            Navy
(2021)                            (2018)

PFBS              5.2            7.6
PFOS          84.5           180
PFOA          40.4           55 (Total Navy: 242.6)
PFHxS        228.6
PFHxA          24.5
PFNA            21.2
FHxSA         18.1
PFHpA           8.3
PFPeS           6.2
PFHpS          4.8
PFPeA          3.7 
FBSA            3.1   
PFBA            3.0
6:2 FTS         2.4
PFUnA           1.5
PFPrS          1.3
PFECHS       1.2
PFOSA          1.0

Total           459.0

The Navy summarized their findings by stating, ‘The only potentially unacceptable risk identified was for a hypothetical future resident, consuming groundwater as daily drinking water.’  ­­They know better.

This is reprehensible. The Navy has profoundly and irrevocably poisoned the groundwater, the creek, the river, and the Chesapeake Bay. All life forms, including humans, are profoundly impacted.

SWSD 18-02 is another surface water sample taken by the Navy a few hundred feet further downstream from the bridge site. Here, the levels are much higher, and this is likely due to the propensity of these chemicals to also travel through shallow groundwater that empties into streams and from rainwater runoff. All soils in the region are profoundly impacted. The subterranean reality is like a giant, saturated toxic sponge that squeezes out poisons forever.

Where is the indignation of this community? It must be hidden in ignorance.

              SWSD 18-02          SWSD 18-01

PFBS            29                         7.6
PFOS          660                        180
PFOA          430                        55

Total          1,119                      242.6

Scientists are most concerned with the levels of PFOS in rivers because this compound bioaccumulates in seafood that humans consume.  Many species of fish have demonstrated bioaccumulation factors between one and two thousand times the ambient water levels of PFOS. Water with 660 ppt means tiny fish may be expected to have hundreds of thousands of parts per trillion of PFOS in their filet. The little fish may be consumed by bigger fish people catch and eat. We’re in trouble.

In 2020 the  Maryland Department of the Environment tested a Redbreast Sunfish in Piscataway Creek and reported the small fish contained 417,000 ppt of PFOS in its filet. This was close to the old burn pit at Joint Base Andrews. Several miles further downstream, in the tidal portion of the creek, a Largemouth Bass was found to have 94,200 ppt of PFOS in its filet and the state says they’re OK to eat. Meanwhile, drinking water providers throughout Maryland report PFAS levels in drinking water to be in the single digits.  

What’s in the fish and the crabs and the oysters in the Little Magothy River and the Chesapeake Bay nearby? The state is not eager to find out while the media won’t cover it. Clinical tests have shown severely contaminated seafood at several locations throughout the state, including Chesapeake Beach (Naval Research Laboratory), Piscataway Creek, (Joint Base Andrews), and St. Inigoes Creek, (Patuxent River NAS).

Bay Head Park has a horrible history of contamination, but it was caused by the Navy, so it is taboo to report for the large corporate-fueled media. Two Preliminary Assessment (PA) Reports were prepared for the facility in 1985 by the Navy. The PA’s identified potential locations of contamination (e.g., missile assembly building, missile fueling and war heading area, transformer locations, magazine drainage area, septic system, etc.). Test results of soil and sediment sampling from the 1985 PA revealed toluene, dichloro-diphenyl trichloroethane, (DDT), and deadly Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons, (PAH’s). In 2002 surface soil samples showed frightening levels of dioxins and pesticides. The Navy accepts no responsibility.

It is Maryland’s most inconvenient truth. The seafood in the Chesapeake watershed is poisoned by military activities.

On November 23, 2021, I sent my water test results to Bill Dehn, Anne Arundel County Supervisor of the Well Construction & Water Quality Program at the Anne Arundel County Department of Health. I suggested the county take steps to test the waters as a first step in protecting public health.  He responded, ‘We do not have the capability of testing for PFAS here at the Anne Arundel County Department of Health, and we do not do any surface water testing.’

Let’s examine the test results from the Bay Head Park creek with results from Fort Meade, Maryland along with locations in Massachusetts and Maine.

The European Food Safety Authority says up to 86% of the PFAS in our bodies is from the food, especially the seafood we consume. They say PFHxS, PFOS, and PFOA are the most important contributors to dietary exposure in seafood. The Navy failed to report PFHxS levels in the stream at Bay Head Park while we found 228.6 ppt in the water.

We tested the waters of the Little Patuxent River near the outfall of the wastewater treatment plant that serves Fort George G. Meade and the National Security Agency. PFOS levels totaled 1,249.8 ppt while all PFAS topped 2,306 ppt. If these totals don’t elicit shock and awe, it’s likely because the reader doesn’t comprehend the dynamics of the propensity of these carcinogens to aggressively bioaccumulate in fish tissue. Neither the Army nor the NSA have admitted to their environmental crimes.

In Cape Cod Massachusetts, John’s Pond and Ashumet Pond have been poisoned  by the activities of Joint Base Cape Cod. The fish are unsafe to consume. In Maine, the Naval Air Station Brunswick closed 12 years ago but the waters remain contaminated. The clams are poisoned there. Authorities in New England have been far more responsive to the threat to public health than authorities in Maryland.

The Anne Arundel County Department of Health must immediately test the waters draining from military and industrial sites and it must test seafood and issue fish advisories to protect public health from the scourges of PFAS.  Neither the Maryland Department of Health nor the Maryland Department of the Environment are up to the task.

Women who are pregnant or may become pregnant should not be eating the contaminated seafood and neither should anyone else.”