Navy asks 12 property owners for permission to test water near Chesapeake’s Fentress airfield

Posted at 4:23 PM, Apr 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-29 16:30:00-04

The Navy is asking 12 property owners near Navy Auxiliary Landing Field Fentress for permission to sample drinking water from private wells for levels of perfluorinated compounds, also known as PFCs.

The Navy orginally said 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.

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.

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.

The Navy will 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 Navy environmental staff verified the test values from preliminary sampling and found an error affecting the results at one property previously requiring no action. The property owners have been told that the corrected results are still below EPA advisory levels. The Navy asked permission to monitor the well quarterly.

According to Navy officials, the results were incorrect due to a “transposition of screening values.” They say other comparisons to the EPA’s health advisory values were still accurate.

The sampling area has to expand in a half mile radius from the erroneous sample to check the presence of PFCs in drinking water wells. The Navy began notifying 12 property owners within the half mile radius.

“When we started the testing we knew additional testing might be required,” said Capt. Lou Schager, Commanding Officer of Naval Air Station Oceana and Fentress. “We also promised to keep the community and our partners up-to-date and informed of where we are in the process and the next steps.” Schager said.

Samples of the drinking water from the wells will be taken May 3 through May 13. Property owners will be individually notified of the results, which are expected in early June 2016. Another public information session will also be held in June. The location, date and time are still being determined.

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