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Navy announces preliminary results of drinking water testing near NALF Fentress

Posted at 7:41 PM, Mar 10, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-11 18:20:04-05

Norfolk, Va. - The Navy announced Thursday the results of a drinking water test near Naval Auxiliary Landing Field Fentress in Chesapeake.

They say 52 private off-base drinking water samples were collected in early February after several types of perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) were present in the water from base wells in January.

Results say the water in two out of the 52 wells near the base has tested higher than the EPA Provisional Health Advisory levels, which recommends action be taken to reduce exposure to high levels.

“I don’t think it’s as big of a deal as everybody is making it out to be," said Tina Johnson, who lives close to the navy base. "People want to make big deals about little things, and all the Navy was doing was trying to be proactive in saying, ‘Oh, well we found we found something that could be harmful, but it was really in a very small area.’”

The Navy has decided to provide alternative drinking water through bottled water and a municipal drinking station off Mt. Pleasant Road, until safe levels of PFCs are reached and a long-term solution can be put in place.

"The well-being of our people on Fentress and our City of Chesapeake neighbors is a top priority for the Navy," said Capt. Lou Schager, Commanding Officer of Naval Air Station Oceana and Fentress. "Equally important, is keeping the community and our partners up-to-date and informed of where we are in the process and the next steps," Schager said.

Some residents however do not believe the Navy is being entirely forthcoming in their findings.

“The [Environmental Protection Agency] told them 30 years ago that that foam was a contaminate. They knew it, they used it anyway," said Sharyn Brown, a resident who lives across the street from the naval base. "Somebody got sick, and it leaked out. That’s how everyone else found out about it.”

Brown has decided to buy her own water until safe she is certain the water is safe to drink.

“I think it’s more than two at this point, and I don’t think it’s every going to be resolved. I stopped drinking water when the possibility [that it might be contaminated] came out," Brown told NewsChannel 3 Friday afternoon.

A public information meeting took place on February 2 to discuss concerns about drinking water around Naval Auxiliary Landing Field (NALF) Fentress. The point of the meeting was to share information and answer questions about the Navy’s plans to sample drinking water from private wells near NALF Fentress to determine if they contain PFCs.

Representatives from the Navy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Virginia Dept. of Environmental Quality, the City of Chesapeake and the Virginia Dept. of Health were at the meeting.

They had informational posters set up around the room.  Residents were able to walk around, ask questions and sign up for their wells to be tested for free.

The Navy says they have scheduled another information session about the situation on March 24.

According to the Navy, the results are preliminary. Once all results have been validated, the samples will receive individual notifications of their results.

The Navy says that PFCs are used in a variety of products and substances but they believe it got into the base drinking water from the use of Aqueous Film-Forming Foam (AFFF), which has been used in training exercises at NALF Fentress over the years.

The base uses well water, which makes their exposure to the PFCs more prominent than those using city water.

The Navy is continuing to update its public information website at www.cnic.navy.mil/fentressinfo with new information as it becomes available. If you have any questions prior to receiving additional updates, please e-mail fentressinfo@navy.mil or telephone 433-3132.