21 more families displaced due to poor water quality in Naples
Stars and Stripes August 18, 2009
NAPLES, Italy — The Navy will move 21 more military families from their off-base homes in the hamlet of Casal di Principe because of pollutants in tap and ground water.
That brings the total to 38 families moved after health experts found unacceptable levels of a potential carcinogen called tetrachloroethene, or PCE, a chemical commonly found in dry-cleaning materials and metal degreasers.
There have been no health issues reported as a result of the PCEs, according to Cmdr. Jeff McAtee, Navy spokesman.
In November, officials put certain areas surrounding Naples temporarily off-limits to new rental leases because water tests turned up the presence of contaminants or because a majority of the homes are serviced by well water. To date, 100 families live in the areas, down from roughly 300 families there when officials first enacted the policy nine months ago.
The existence of PCEs and other contaminants in the water was found after the Navy began an environmental assessment to determine if there are health risks associated with living in Naples. Some $34.4 million has been spent so far on the survey, which began in February 2008.
In July 2007, Navy officials from Naples began to investigate how to go about the unprecedented assessment. After much planning, the Navy Marine Corps Public Health Center began conducting short- and long-term analyses, scrutinizing air, water, soil, soil gases and food, said Dr. Paul Gillooly, who is leading the assessment.
The Navy contracted with Tetra Tech, an environmental company, and spent nearly $13.5 million on the health evaluations, which included sampling of tap water at off-base homes in Naples neighborhoods, out of fiscal 2008 funding. Nearly $18.8 million is budgeted for the contract in fiscal 2009 for the second phase of the evaluation.
The service has paid $420,000 over the two years for staff support, such as hiring of administrators and translators related to the study, and another $1.4 million to make water potable at the Carney Park recreational facility and at a small telecommunications base in Lago Patria.
The secretary of the Navy also authorized the spending of $263,000 so that the Navy in Europe could bottle and provide bottled water to off-base residents after tests last summer detected contaminates in some residents’ water, such as volatile organic compounds along with fecal and total coliform bacteria.
The health center’s final report is expected to be completed by late December or early January, Gillooly said.