Town of Coupeville will independently test water for firefighting chemical

Both the Town of Coupeville and the Navy will test the town’s wells for a chemical that may be hazardous to people’s health.

The Navy announced last month that it would be testing water in wells around the Ault Field base and Outlying Field Coupeville for the presence of a compound found in firefighting foam. Earlier this year the Environmental Protection Agency set a lifetime health advisory level for the first time on the compounds, perfluorooctanoic acid and perfluorooctane sulfonate.

Officials said town wells will likely be tested because of their proximity to OLF Coupeville.

Mayor Molly Hughes announced this week that the town will also do its own, independent testing of four town water supply wells located at the Keystone and Fort Casey well fields.

Navy officials said they had no record of firefighting foam being used at OLF Coupeville. A test of well water at the field did, however, detect the chemical, but in an amount below the advisory level, according to Navy officials.

Hughes said in a press release that independent testing seemed prudent.

“At this time we have no reason to be concerned for the safety of the town’s water,” she wrote in the release, “but we must be deliberate and vigilant in obtaining all the information we can to confirm that the Town’s water supply meets or exceeds all applicable public drinking water supply standards.”

The state Department of Health will assist with the testing and samples will be sent to a lab in Spokane. Results are expected in early December.

Exposure to the chemicals over time has been linked to adverse health effects, including cancer and developmental problems, the EPA reports. The Navy will provide alternate drinking water for residents if the chemicals in the water are found to exceed the EPA lifetime health advisory levels, Navy officials reported.

The Navy welcomes the additional testing.

“The Navy is aware of and supports the town of Coupeville initiative to conduct its own testing,” said Capt. Geoffrey Moore, commanding officer of Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, “and we will be ready to help evaluate and address any findings that the town finds as we collaborate on this project.”