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Navy plans to test well water near NAS Jacksonville for chemicals found in firefighting foam

A P-3C Orion takes off from the Naval Air Station Jacksonville runway Dec. 9, 2015.

VICTOR PITTS/U.S. NAVY PHOTO

By JOE DARASKEVICH | The Florida Times-Union | Published: August 8, 2018

A hazardous chemical found in firefighting foam commonly used at Navy installations to put out aircraft accidents could be contaminating drinking water near Naval Air Station Jacksonville, so officials will begin testing well water near the base starting this month.

The tests will come at no cost to the well owners, and the Navy will provide alternate drinking water for residents if their concentrations exceed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's lifetime health advisory for per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, according to the base.

It's part of the Navy's ongoing testing of drinking water that is currently taking place at and near Navy installations across the nation.

Navy officials have informed members of the staff at the Florida congressional offices regarding the Navy's current plan to test drinking water wells around NAS Jacksonville, and Navy leadership has also informed local officials in Duval and Clay counties.

The man-made chemicals are not absorbed well in soil and could migrate to groundwater, according to the Navy. They have been used for many years to make products that resist heat, stains, grease and water, and have been used in a variety of products and substances, such as non-stick pans; water resistant textiles and sprays with water resistant properties.

In May 2016, the EPA issued lifetime health advisory levels for perfluorooctane sulfonate and perfluorooctanoic acid, at 70 parts per trillion, individually and combined if both are present, according to the Navy. While there are no EPA regulations for these compounds, the EPA established these lifetime health advisory levels to offer a margin of protection for all Americans throughout their life from potential adverse health effects resulting from exposure to the chemicals in drinking water.

In June 2016, the Navy issued a policy to identify areas of potential release of these materials to the environment that included areas in and around NAS Jacksonville.

Additional information will be shared with the public as it becomes available throughout the testing process. A public open house is scheduled to discuss the drinking water investigation on Aug. 16 from 4-7 p.m. at the Courtyard by Marriott, 610 Wells Road, Orange Park.

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