Letter: Navy took quick action to address problem of PFAs

Editor,

In the Saturday, Feb. 2 edition, Rick Abraham implies that our Navy is delinquent in taking responsibility for PFAS contamination in our groundwater stemming from use of fluoridated compounds as an aircraft crash fire suppressant.

From things I’ve learned as a member of our county’s Water Resources Advisory Committee, as well as the Navy’s Restoration Advisory Board, let me suggest that, while Mr. Abraham’s Feb. 2 letter is apparently factual, the fluoridated compound issue needs to be assessed in the more comprehensive real-world scope of things.

First of all, most, if not all contamination occurred when little was known of the health hazard potential of fluoridated compounds and when our island’s population was so rural that all sorts of pollution by our own citizenry was common.

I’ve known bulldozer operators who boasted of burying all sorts of discarded junk in pits. Citizens were occasionally known to innocently dump used motor oil onto the ground with no concerns for consequences. Overgrown brush and forested areas still hide piles of discarded junk from years gone by.

Secondly, while the minute amounts of PFAS tested in groundwater suggests a high potential for human ingestion, the poison potential is quite low compared to other sources. Testing and studies show that these fluoridated compounds are omnipresent in the bodies of our general public, most of whom have no contact with our groundwater at all.

Moreover, the implication that our Navy is covertly unconcerned about the situation is refuted by the quick action they took to abate the problem. That began before most of us knew there was a problem.

Once pollutants are in the ground their concentration levels, transport speeds and vectors are most difficult to determine, and even more difficult to abate. Nevertheless our Navy took the best action available to address their involvement by drilling a pattern of sampling wells around suspected sources to determine contaminant plume movements, after which they installed what means were best-available-science to neutralize them.

That hardly describes an incompetent or uncaring Navy.

Perhaps most importantly when compared to other sources of fluoridated compound contamination, one must include oil-proofed fast food containers such as hamburger cartons, French fry containers, and drink cups. Then there are non-stick cookware, water resistant rain wear, and even the fluoride that dentists paint our teeth with.

It also bears mention that like many of us, our Navy came here having been forced out of an urban metropolis long before most of us came here; to which we must acknowledge the well-understood need for our own protection in this often troubled world that makes other concerns fade even further.

Just ask us who remember WWII and the carnage that followed.

Al Williams

Oak Harbor

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