Letter: Navy withheld info on water contamination


The Navy found PFAS chemicals in water coming from its base more than a year ago – but didn’t reveal all that were found. Neither did it disclose that it knew, nine months ago, PFASs had seeped to portions of the aquifer.

In October of last year, the Navy announced that two PFASs had been found in Clover Valley Creek and Lake. However, it was not until October 2019, a year later, that reports were posted on a Navy website showing that six PFASs had actually been found — in every monthly sample from September 2018 to September 2019.

PFAS chemicals don’t break down but accumulate in the body and are linked to health problems, including cancer. There are 114 properties in the Clover Creek and Lake area where water is still used for irrigating and, until news of contamination, watering cattle. The Creek and Lake empties to Dugualla Bay and a salmon restoration area.

The two PFASs the Navy first admitted to finding in the surface water were, PFOA and PFOS. But, also found, in every sample taken from September 2018 through September 2019 were PFHXS, PFHXA, PFHPA, and PFBS—the same “forever chemicals” found in Coupeville’s drinking water now being filtered at the Navy’s expense.

The Navy has been quick to say that contaminated surface water doesn’t mean groundwater is contaminated. But buried within the Navy’s websites are summaries of test results from January 2019 showing the contamination of three Clover Creek area wells with PFOA, PFHXS and/or PFBS. The most contaminated well owner didn’t receive results until October 21, 2019.

Withholding such information denies people opportunities to protect themselves. They could avoid exposures, ask for cleanup, or insist that the Navy replace PFAS containing firefighting foams that caused the contamination.

Most wells sampled don’t show contamination, but all wells haven’t been sampled and PFASs are still seeping to the aquifer—and still discharging to Dugualla Bay and the Straight of Juan DeFuca, public waters classified by the state as “extraordinary” for aquatic life uses, protected shellfish harvesting, and threatened and endangered species.

Rick Abraham


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