Navy to Monitor Water Quality at Additional Homes Near Fentress

Water faucet slowly drips. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration/Staff Sgt. Christopher Marasky)
Water faucet slowly drips. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration/Staff Sgt. Christopher Marasky)

The Navy will monitor water quality at two more homes near Fentress Naval Auxiliary Landing Field after laboratory results showed contaminant levels from a firefighting foam used for decades were high enough to warrant additional testing, the Navy said Wednesday.

The Navy in January discovered high levels of perfluorinated compounds in the well water at Fentress in the eastern part of the city and immediately told sailors who work there to drink bottled water until a long-term solution was found.

Some studies have indicated the compounds increase the risk for cancer in animals and damage to human liver cells and an association with thyroid disease. Other studies have shown exposure may cause elevated cholesterol levels and low birth weight in humans.

The Environmental Protection Agency doesn't regulate perfluorinated compounds, but it considers them an "emerging contaminant" that could threaten health or the environment. The EPA is studying the contaminants to figure out whether regulations for acceptable levels are needed. For now, a provisional health advisory level was put into place.

The Navy tested 52 drinking-water wells within a half-mile of the contaminated water sites at Fentress, which is used by fighter jets based at Oceana Naval Air Station in neighboring Virginia Beach to simulate landing on an aircraft carrier. Of those wells, two exceeded the EPA's provisional health advisory levels. The Navy is providing those homes with bottled water.

Chesapeake also has set up a water-fill station near Butts Road Intermediate School for residents concerned about well water used for drinking and cooking. The city's water supply has not been affected by the compounds.

The Navy said wells at the two homes where contaminant levels fell below the EPA advisory level would be tested on a quarterly basis.

A public meeting for residents who had their wells tested will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday at Mount Pleasant Christian School, 1613 Mount Pleasant Road.

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