Bucks County Courier Times Gives Navy a “Thumbs Down” for Ducking PFAS Contamination Culpability | Newtown News of Interest | Scoop.it

For years, we’ve been closely following the U.S. Department of Defense’s response to the discovery of toxic PFAS chemicals in water wells used by more than 70,000 local residents near current and former military bases where firefighting foams containing the chemicals were used since the 1970s. So we weren’t surprised to learn government officials knew about — but did little to address — the ways residents could be exposed to the chemicals beyond drinking water from their wells.

Still, the U.S. Navy gets a Thumbs Down for showing, once again, that ducking culpability while minimizing and delaying its response took priority over protecting residents from the contamination it caused.

Thousands of pages of recently obtained internal documents, which reporters Kyle Bagenstose and Jenny Wagner reviewed, yielded a number of instances in recent years in which environmental experts counseled Navy officials to evaluate exposure pathways other than drinking water. Examples include consumption of crops fertilized with waste from treatment plants and fish caught in nearby ponds and streams.

But it seems the advice was either ignored or considered but then dismissed. In one case, a remedial project manager for the Navy sent word to the East Coast director of the Navy’s Base Realignment and Closure program that he could evaluate potential fish exposure pathways in Warminster. The director responded telling him to “hold off on that course of action” until higher-ranking officials could weigh in.

We’re not sure what happened after that, but the communications office of the U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry told us last month that fish near the bases still had not been tested. We wish that came as a surprise.