Drinking water near NALF Fentress tests above EPA levels

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) – The Navy said preliminary results of water testing near Naval Auxiliary Landing Field Fentress in Chesapeake showed drinking water from some off-base wells may not be safe to drink.

A total of 52 private off-base drinking water samples were collected from Feb. 3 through Feb. 13 after Perfluorinated Compounds (PFC) were found in drinking water from base wells in January.

DOCUMENT: Perfluorinated Chemicals

Results show two of those wells near Fentress have levels above the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provisional health advisory for PFCs.

The Navy notified those two homeowners on Thursday, and will provide bottled water for drinking and cooking starting on Friday. A long-term solution is being assessed.

Navy Public Affairs Officer Jennifer Colaizzi wouldn’t reveal the exact location of those two properties for privacy purposes. She did confirm, however, that they are close to each other.

On Thursday night, 10 On Your Side spoke to residents in the area whose wells were tested. Reactions were mixed; some people hadn’t been worried about the water, while others said they had been concerned for weeks. No one wanted to appear on camera.

This is a story we first brought you in January, when the Navy revealed that water sampled from Fentress had tested for PFCs.

A public meeting was held soon after between local experts. At the time, Dr. Nancy Welch, Director of Chesapeake Health Department, told the community not to panic.

On Thursday, she told 10 On Your Side that she is concerned about finding out more information, seeing that the chemical’s health impacts are still unclear. She said she hadn’t yet received a formal report on the preliminary test results. The test results are still being validated.

Dr. Welch said she will assess the best long-term solutions.

PFCs were once used in firefighting foam used for training at Fentress. The firefighting foam is no longer used.

The Navy has scheduled another public information session for March 24. The time and location haven’t been determined.

U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine issued a letter Friday, calling on Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus to address the issue:

Dear Secretary Mabus,

We write to request information on recent lab results indicating elevated levels of perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) in the drinking water on and around Naval Air Landing Facility (NALF) Fentress in Chesapeake, VA.  As you are aware, PFCs are considered to be emerging contaminants, and while there are no Safe Drinking Water Act regulatory standards for these compounds, there are Provisional Health Advisory values for health-based screening levels.

In order to best provide congressional oversight and support to the NALF Fentress community, we request a detailed briefing on your current lab reports and additional testing planned, which should include health assessments of servicemembers and members of the community. We appreciate the Navy’s proactive efforts to evaluate facilities for this emergent contaminant, promptly notify the local community and deliver bottled water to areas that may have been impacted.

American naval strength and force projection rely on the unwavering support of our servicemembers, their families and surrounding communities.  Foundational to this support is our moral obligation to ensure their health and welfare.  We look forward to working with the Department to swiftly resolve this matter.

U.S. Senator Mark Warner

U.S. Senator Tim Kaine

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