Guest Opinion: "EPA Playing Us for Fools" Regarding PFAS in Local Drinking Water, Says Warminster Resident | Newtown News of Interest |

Thursday marks the third anniversary of when firefighting foam sprang to life in a “special report” on the front page of local papers. The top of page one shouted, “Unclear and uncertain danger,” announcing a water crisis in Bucks and Montgomery counties that continues unabated. The latest headline accuses the EPA of spinning wheels.


In 2015, the Department of the Navy posted a small notice for a public information session set during a workday regarding contamination at the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Willow Grove in Horsham and the Johnsville Naval Air Warfare Center in Warminster. We locals were used to this — we all knew the bases were Superfund sites.


We’ve got many sick friends and neighbors. As an A-10 Warthog flies and firefighting foam seeps, only 3 miles separate the two bases — both have tested at the highest levels in the nation.


This has long been known and artfully hidden from the public. The earliest concerns date to reports from Dupont in 1954. More than a decade ago, the National Fire Prevention Association’s Committee on firefighting foam stated that consumption of PFOA and PFOS was a death warrant.


Although the EPA lowered its “advisory” limit to 70 parts per trillion, ppt, Harvard University Chan School of Public Health said their research showed that the level should be 1 ppt. Richard Clapp, the leading researcher, spoke at the only meeting held in Warminster that was sponsored by the township’s Environmental Advisory Council. He told us that New Jersey’s limit of 14 ppt was closer to what was needed, but is still inadequate.


If we stop being mesmerized by the EPA, Navy and Department of Defense spinning wheels, we’ll realize that we’re being played for fools. Veterans have taken the brunt. Government strategy has been out of the same playbook that they use for traumatic brain injuries. They used it against Agent Orange claims, PTSD, shell shock and a host of other veteran issues.


Our answer now lies at the state level. We need to actively support Senate and House bills like Tom Murt’s — co-sponsored by Madeleine Dean and others — to set a 5 ppt limit for Pennsylvania. The Delaware Riverkeeper Network, DRN, submitted a similar petition for rulemaking to the Environmental Quality Board, EQB.


All our local legislators, Gov. Wolf and Sen. Casey are on our side. We, the people, just need to step it up. It’s our water, our health. Over 80,000 local residents and many veterans are depending on what we do. Let’s end the spinning wheels.


[Warminster resident Larry Menkes is the CEO of Veterans Green Jobs Initiative that finds green jobs for wounded warriors.]