Naval Weapons Station (NWS) Earle Military Sealift Command (MSC) Firefighting School Drinking Water Information
A public information session was held on Thursday, April 14, 2016 at the Community Enrichment Center – Southard School, 115 Kent Road, Howell N.J. The session was held to provide results of the drinking water sampling performed by the Navy as a part of a perfluorinated compound (PFC) investigation. The session was similar to the one conducted by the Navy, federal, state, and local agencies in February prior to the sampling effort.
The meeting format included information displays along with representatives from the Navy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).
The purpose of the meeting was to share information and answer questions about the Navy’s PFC test results for drinking water samples taken from properties near NWS Earle in Howell Township. The validated, test results have been received, and they are the same as the preliminary results:
• Twenty-seven of 28 drinking water wells tested near NWS Earle fell below the U.S. EPA provisionary health advisory levels for Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS) and Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) and the New Jersey DEP Interim Ground Water Quality Standard for Perfluorononanoic Acid (PFNA) and require no other action at this time.
• One property had a level meeting the U.S. EPA preliminary health advisory levels for PFOS. This property has received bottled water.
• One property had a level above the New Jersey DEP preliminary health-based guidance for PFOA. This property owner has been contacted by the New Jersey DEP to coordinate corrective actions.
The Navy started testing drinking water for PFCs in December 2015 at installations, including NWS Earle, where firefighting foam that contained PFCs was once used for training. The firefighting foam is no longer used for training.
In January, drinking water samples on the installation showed that the water did not contain PFCs above the U.S. EPA provisional health advisory levels or the New Jersey DEP Groundwater Quality Standard for PFNA. However, the groundwater samples from the shallow non-potable test wells installed as part of the study did indicate elevated PFC levels. On Feb. 12, the Navy notified residents within a half mile radius down gradient of the elevated PFC location on-base and asked for permission to conduct additional testing to determine if the PFCs had migrated off the installation.
The Navy is working with Federal and State regulators to determine which corrective action(s) are best to use for a long-term solution.
PFCs and Navy Policy:
PFCs are man-made chemicals, which have been used since the 1950s in many household and industrial products because of their stain and water repellant properties. PFCs are now present virtually everywhere in the world because of the large amounts which have been manufactured and used. Once these compounds are released to the environment they break down very slowly.
Currently, PFCs are classified as unregulated or “emerging” contaminants, which have no Safe Drinking Water Act regulatory standards. PFCs are being studied by the U.S. EPA to determine if regulation is needed. The U.S. EPA, however, has established health advisory levels for PFOS and PFOA. Additionally, the New Jersey DEP has established an Interim Ground Water Quality Standard for PFNA and a health-based guidance for PFOA. The U.S. EPA and New Jersey DEP recommend actions be taken to reduce exposure if drinking water contains PFC concentrations above those levels.
As of May 2016, the U.S. EPA health advisory level is 70 parts per trillion (ppt) for PFOS and 70 ppt for PFOA. When both PFOA and PFOS are found in drinking water, the combined concentrations of PFOS and PFOA should be compared to 70 ppt. The New Jersey DEP preliminary health-based guidance for PFOA is 0.04 ppb and the Ground Water Quality Standard for PFNA is 0.01 ppb.
Exposure to PFOA and PFOS appears to be widespread. Studies have found both compounds in the blood samples of the general human population and wildlife nationwide. Exposure to PFOS and PFOA through ingestion is the primary health concern for people. Studies on exposed human populations indicate PFOS and/or PFOA may cause elevated cholesterol levels and possibly low infant birth weight. When animals are given large doses, they exhibit developmental, reproductive and liver effects. Other studies suggest a link with certain cancers.
Health effects from exposure to low levels of PFOS and PFOA are not well known and studies are continuing. At this time, it is not possible to link exposures to PFOS and PFOA in water to a person’s individual health issues. Blood tests are available, but they are not routinely done because the results can be inconclusive and test results do not predict health effects. Long term exposure effects are still being investigated by U.S. EPA. Based on what is known and still unknown about PFOS and PFOA, the EPA recommends people not use water that contains PFOS and/or PFOA above the provisional health advisory levels for drinking or cooking.
Until a decision on regulating PFOS and PFOA or other PFCs is made by U.S. EPA, the Navy proactively developed a policy to ensure drinking water has not been impacted by PFC contamination at installations where there has been a nearby known or suspected release of PFCs to the environment.
The Navy has started an investigation under our Environmental Restoration Program to determine if PFCs have moved off the NWS Earle property in the groundwater. Our first priority in this investigation has been determining if PFCs are present in the drinking water of nearby residents and taking appropriate action as needed.
Off-Base Drinking Water Sampling:
The Navy began notifying residents in the designated sampling area on February 12, 2016 to request to sample their drinking water. Off-base drinking water sampling was conducted at no cost to residents in the sampling area in February 2016. The sampling process took approximately 30 - 45 minutes, and involved a team of two technicians coming into the home to collecting a sample from a faucet. Prior to collecting the sample, the technicians also went over a homeowner questionnaire that was provided with the sampling notification packet.
The questionnaire was designed to gather information about the drinking water well and any filtration systems being used which helped with selecting the appropriate tap to sample and assist when evaluating the sampling results and developing follow-on investigation plans as needed.
Actions Based on Results:
Results were received in March 2016. The Navy provided notification to each resident sampled of their personal drinking water results on April 4, 2016 as well as notification of and follow on actions if needed for their home.
Provide Alternate Drinking Water: The Navy is providing an alternate water source (e.g. bottled water) for drinking and cooking to one residence within the designated sampling area as their drinking water sample was found to contain PFOS or PFOA at or above the EPA provisional health advisory level. The Navy will continue to provide alternate water at no cost to this residence until connection to an existing water main is established. With the lowering of the U.S. EPA health advisory level to 70 ppt. in May 2016, a second residence will be connected to the existing water main.
The Navy has determined that based on the drinking water sampling results; there is no need to expand the drinking water investigation area. The Navy in consultation with the U.S. EPA and New Jersey DEP will use the results to guide the installation of monitoring wells both on-base and off-base as needed for a groundwater investigation. The Navy will work with the EPA and New Jersey DEP to identify and evaluate long-term solutions to PFCs in groundwater.
For More Information:
To learn more about the emerging contaminants PFOS and PFOA, please see the EPA fact sheet at: http://1.usa.gov/28VRCu5.
To answer any questions you may have on the sampling program, please call (732) 866-2171 or email at email@example.com.
Open House Information:
Open House Fact Sheet - Apr. 14, 2016
Open House Posters - Apr. 14, 2016
EPA Fact Sheet on PFCs
Frequently Asked Questions
Letter to Residents
Mid-Atlantic Center for Children’s Heath Fact Sheets
NWS Earle MSC Drinking Water Test Sampling Results
Perfluorinated Chemicals and Your Health
Perfluorinated Chemicals (PFCs) in Private Wells
Public Health Statement on Perfluoroalkyls
Searching for Emerging Contaminants in Drinking Water