Navy to send letters to farms warning of chemicals in groundwater

The chemical compounds known as PFAS were found years ago in groundwater at levels above the EPA’s lifetime health advisory limit.

Next week, the Navy will send notifications to owners and operators of agricultural operations near Navy installations that are affected by per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances in groundwater.

Farms near Naval Air Station Whidbey Island’s Ault Field and Outlying Field Coupeville will likely be among those notified as the chemical compounds known as PFAS were found years ago in groundwater surrounding those installations at levels above the EPA’s lifetime health advisory limit. The chemicals originated in foam used by firefighters to put out aircraft fires.

Notifications to agricultural operations is required under a new law in the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act.

According to the Navy, the law requires the Department of Defense to work with the Department of Agriculture to identify agricultural operations “within one mile down gradient of DOD installation boundaries, in the direction the groundwater flow, for which groundwater sampling results exceed 70 parts per trillion of PFOA and/or PFOS and /or 40 parts per billion of PFBS.”

Notification packets will include a letter from the base commanding officer, a copy of the law and the range of levels for PFOA, PFOS, and/or PFBS found in groundwater.

The packet will also include health and safety information from government agencies about these substances. Multiple notification packets may be sent to different people at the same address to ensure all official owners and operators have been notified, according to a Navy press release. Notification letters will be distributed as information is received from USDA.

“This is only a notification effort,” the Navy reported. “At this time, there are no additional actions required or planned for these USDA-identified agricultural operations.”

For information on Navy’s PFAS investigation and drinking water response actions, please visit www.navfac.navy.mil/NWPFAS.

For more information on this notification effort, please contact the Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command Public Affairs Officer James Johnson at 360-396-6387 or via email at PAO_Feedback@navy.mil.

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