Residents concerned about contaminated drinking water

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CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) – Residents are reacting to news that drinking water near them is contaminated.

Wednesday 10 On Your Side reported that the Navy is giving bottled drinking water to its employees at Naval Auxiliary Landing Field Fentress.

Test results returned this week showed a high level of perfluorinated compound (PFC) contaminants.

Some people who live near Naval Auxiliary Landing Field Fentress are upset that they first learned about contaminated drinking water through the media.

Navy officials said it is simply taking precautions because based on federal and state standards, the drinking water is safe.

“It’s concerning,” Toney Brooks said.

He has lived on New Land Road in Chesapeake just six months.

Brooks recently learned of the elevated levels of PFCs in the drinking water at Naval Auxiliary Landing Field Fentress.

“We’ve drank bottled water since we’ve lived here. The water even before I knew about this, it was horrible,” Brooks said.

The levels led Navy officials to give bottled water to the 50 people working at Fentress.

Navy Commanding Officer, Captain Louis Schager said, “What the Navy is doing is above and beyond what any federal or state regulatory requirements are asking.”

Captain Schager said PFCs are in foam used to fight aircraft fires. The chemical smothers oil and flames.

According to the Navy, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) gave a provisional health advisory on PFCs and that prompted the Navy’s action on what’s considered an unregulated contaminate.

“The EPA, not knowing a whole lot about the effects anything above that PHA level would trigger the same reaction,” Captain Schager said.

Research suggests PFCs could affect your health, but the full impact is unknown.

However for now, the Navy will still use the chemical.

“Based on the knowledge we know now, we’ll continue to look to try to phase out the use of PFCs and (Aqueous Film-Forming Foam) AFFF foam is one of those areas,” Captain Schager said.

Brooks said, “We’ll see what happens.”

Here’s the full statement from the City of Chesapeake:

The City of Chesapeake is working closely with the Navy in regards to their discovery of increased levels of Perfluorinated Compounds (PFCs) in the drinking water at NALF Fentress. The Navy has indicated their intention to test ground water in areas within a ½ mile radius of the Facility, and the City will assist in those efforts wherever possible. At this time, specific plans for the testing are being coordinated, and residents in the immediate area will be kept informed as the plan develops. It is important to note that the concerns about PFCs relate ONLY to water drawn from wells, and not for the municipal water system of the City of Chesapeake.

Navy drinking water sampling results can be found here.

Read about emerging contaminants here.

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