The U.S. Navy continues to sample drinking water wells near Naval Air Station Whiting Field’s Outlying Landing Fields in Alabama and Florida. Testing began in June and is scheduled to continue through August.
The Navy is sampling drinking water wells within a designated sampling area for certain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS. PFAS have been used nationwide since the 1950s in products that resist heat, stains, grease and water. They have been used in a variety of products and substances such as non-stick cookware, food packaging such as microwaveable popcorn bags, water-resistant textiles and sprays used to treat carpets and fabrics. PFAS are key components in aqueous film forming foam.
“Results are coming in every week as we continue to conduct sampling in Alabama and Florida,” said Jonathan Stewart, Public Works Department Whiting Field physical scientist. “We initially sent out over 1,700 letters to residents who are in the designated area and are scheduling appointments as we hear back from those residents.”
As of July 16, a total of 1,757 properties have requested the Navy to sample, 536 appointments have been scheduled through August, 397 samples have been collected and 11 PFOA/PFOS exceedances have been found.
“Residents are welcome to contact us if they would like us to sample their drinking water well,” Stewart said. “According to our records, there may be many residents still out there that we have not heard back from.”
It is Navy policy to continue sampling off base in the direction of the ground water flow until there are no longer any exceedances reported in private drinking water wells. When an exceedance is reported, the Navy immediately provides property owners with bottle water until the Navy comes up with a permanent solution for their drinking water source.
In May 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a lifetime health advisory level of 70 parts per trillion for both perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS). Although these health advisory levels are not enforceable regulatory standards, the Navy is proactively seeking to identify drinking water wells that may contain levels of PFOA and/or PFOS greater than the EPA lifetime health advisory. To do this, the Navy needs to sample drinking water wells in the designated sampling area.
The Navy mailed letters, and most recently a follow up reminder postcard, to property owners in the designated sampling area to request permission to sample their drinking water. Sampling will be available to property owners within the designated sampling area at no cost.
Due to COVID-19, the Navy conducted an online “virtual” open house to inform the public and provide answers to questions about efforts to sample drinking water wells near the installation for PFAS. The online virtual public meeting is still available online at https://WhitingFieldPFAS.com.
Contact information for Navy representatives, along with partnering agencies including the EPA, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, the Florida Department of Health and the Alabama Department of Public Health, are also provided at the site online.
The Navy is committed to working with the local communities on this important issue and keeping the public informed.
Residents near NAS Whiting Field OLFs in Florida and Alabama who want to schedule an appointment can call 844-NASWFLD (844-627-9353).
About NAS Whiting Field
Naval Air Station Whiting Field, home of Training Air Wing FIVE, is the backbone of Naval aviation training, supporting approximately 60 percent of all primary fixed-wing flight training and 100 percent of all initial helicopter training for the Navy, Coast Guard and Marine Corps. NAS Whiting Field is the busiest aviation complex in the world with more than one million flight operations flown at the installation each year. It is comprised of two main airfields and 12 Navy outlying landing fields across four counties in Southeast Alabama and Northwest Florida.