NAPLES, Italy — After telling Naples area residents that results from a pilot study of soil and water samples would be released in mid-June, Navy officials now say they won’t release the data until a risk assessment has been completed by Navy health officials in Virginia, possibly late in 2008.

"The Navy will continue to work with Italian authorities and share information as the study progresses," said Navy Region Europe command officials in a press release Friday.

The command insists it isn’t withholding the results, taken from seven homes, but says it will not release the data from the pilot study until it has been assessed by the Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center in Virginia.

The pilot and overall studies are part of a public-health assessment the Navy began earlier this year to determine the extent of health hazards associated with living in Naples.

Problems with waste disposal, illegal dumping, toxic waste, trash collection and trash-burning have persisted for decades in the city. Concerns raised by residents over the health risks associated with those conditions prompted the Navy to begin the studies.

The pilot study was done to ensure the testing procedures for the larger study were valid, according to Kelly Burdick, spokeswoman for Naval Facilities Engineering Command Europe and Southwest Asia, based in Naples. The larger study was due to begin last week and include about 130 homes on the economy and 30 homes in U.S. government-leased properties.

"The Navy is taking a conservative approach to data analysis and is applying US Environmental Protection Agency standards for the Pilot Study," Navy officials said in the press release.

The EPA requires notification within 30 days "any time a water system provides water with levels of a contaminant that exceed EPA or state standards or that hasn’t been treated properly, but that doesn’t pose an immediate risk to human health. ...," according to the EPA Web site.

If there is an immediate health impact, the EPA requirement is 24 hours for notification using "media outlets such as television, radio and newspapers. …," according to the Web site. There was no information available on reporting procedures for contaminated-soil findings, according to an EPA official.

Water and soil samples were collected from residences in Aversa, Bacoli, Casal di Pricipe, Varcaturo and Villa Literno. The data from the pilot study was received and validated by June 11, according to Burdick.

Officials did not respond by deadline to several questions regarding the pilot study, such as who authorized the delay of release of the validated data, and whether anything found in the pilot study was a cause for concern to any of the residents in the study.

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