Jacksonville, FL — The Navy will be testing for potentially harmful chemicals in drinking water wells on and around Naval Air Station Jacksonville.
This is part of a nationwide effort the Navy has made, to ensure drinking water is not affected by past Navy activity. The focus is per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which are found in firefighting foam. The Navy says the PFAS do not absorb well in to the ground, and can therefore make it into groundwater.
The EPA has issued a “lifetime health advisory” for two types of PFAS- perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), when found at certain concentrations. While the chemicals are not regulated, the Navy says the EPA is studying whether they should be.
The Navy says various studies and research so far has indicated exposure to these chemicals above certain levels could lead to cancer, developmental issues in fetuses and breastfed infants, liver effects, immune effects, thyroid effects, and more.
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NAS Jax says a Department of Defense report showed some of these compounds had been detected in shallow groundwater monitoring wells at the base. They say surface water and shallow groundwater is not used for drinking, and the investigation of that groundwater contamination is ongoing.
Drinking water for the base is provided through two sources, according to NAS Jax- three deep wells from the Floridan Aquifer, and a connection from JEA. NAS Jax says those sources are regularly tested, including for some unregulated contaminants like the ones in question here. NAS Jax says the testing has shown “non-detect” amounts of these chemicals, or levels below the EPA advisory.
The Navy is now requesting permission from nearby private property owners, in order to sample their drinking water wells.
Sampling is not needed for homeowners in these areas served by JEA, because JEA testing has already come back as “non-detect”. If this new well testing finds a potentially unsafe level of these chemicals, NAS Jax says the Navy will provide alternate drinking water to those affected, including bottled water, until a long term solution is implemented.
They are holding a public open house to share more information about this drinking water investigation on August 16th, from 4-7 PM at the Courtyard by Marriott at 610 Wells Rd, in Orange Park.