In early March 2016, the U.S. Defense Department (DOD) announced that it would investigate 664 military sites in the United States for groundwater water contamination from perfluorinated compunds (PFCs), chemicals used in fire-fighting foam. Since December 2015, DOD has investigated 28 sites, including Naval Auxiliary Landing Field Fentress in Chesapeake, Virginia, where drinking water was found January 2016 to contain PFCs at higher concentrations than U.S. EPA Provisional Health Advisory levels; PFCs were also discovered groundwater-monitoring wells—but not in drinking water—at Naval Weapons Station Earle in Colts Neck, New Jersey). The discovery in Chesapeake led the Navy to start giving bottled water to personnel at that base and to have groundwater within a half-mile of the base (52 wells) sampled between February 3 and 13 for testing.
On March 10, 2016, the Navy announced preliminary results showing that two of the 52 private wells sampled had PFC levels about the EPA Advisory Levels. As of mid-March, the Navy was still investigating ways to address the contamination, and it planned a public-information session on the situation for March 24, 2016.
5/4/16 update: In late April 2016, the Navy announced that it would have to add 12 more properties to its testing program, because it wanted to continue testing at a well it had previously determined did not need further testing. The Navy’s testing policy also requires it to test properties within a half-mile radius of the added property, resulting in plans to test the additional properties.
Information from the Navy on the Chesapeake situation is available online at www.cnic.navy.mil/fentressinfo.
News Media Items Through 5/4/16 Update:
Navy wants to test water at 12 more properties near Fentress in Chesapeake, Virginian-Pilot, 4/29/16.
Navy to monitor water quality at additional homes near Fentress, Virginian-Pilot, 3/23/16.
Navy announces preliminary results of drinking water testing near Naval Auxiliary Landing Field Fentress, The Flagship [Norfolk, Va.], 3/16/16.
Military to check for water contamination at 664 sites, Associated Press, as published by WTOP Radio Washington, D.C., 3/10/16.
Medical expert says water near Fentress Field is safe to drink, WAVY TV Hampton Roads, 2/6/16.
Navy to begin testing well water near NALF Fentress after contaminates found in water on-base, WTKR TV-Norfolk, 2/3/16.
Navy to hold drinking water information meeting in Chesapeake, 13 News Now Norfolk, 2/3/16.
Navy to test Chesapeake well water near Fentress for contaminants, Virginian-Pilot, 2/2/16.
Water tests show contaminants in water at Chesapeake’s Fentress airfield, WTKR TV-Norfolk, 1/20/16.
Additional News Items After the 5/4/16 Update (most recent listed first):
Firefighting foam contaminated water near Fentress field, so the Navy is researching an alternative, Virginian-Pilot, 10/23/17.
Navy to test drinking water of some residents near NAS Oceana, WAVY-TV Portsmouth, 12/9/16.
Public meeting Tuesday [held by the Navy on June 14, 2016, in Chesapeake] to discuss NALF Fentress drinking water, WAVY TV-Hampton Roads, 6/13/16.