A member of Congress has called for an investigation into groundwater contamination threats at more than 600 military installations around the country.
Congressman Brendan Boyle issued a letter to the chair of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee requesting testimony from Navy and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials on the presence of perfluorinated compounds at military sites. The letter, delivered Monday, specifically mentions the Horsham Air Guard Station, an Air Force installation in Boyle's congressional district.
Boyle oversees Pennsylvania's 13th Congressional District, which includes parts of Montgomery and Philadelphia counties. Horsham was a Navy base from 1928-2011.
His call for a congressional hearing is the latest development in what has become a crisis for many living on or near the facility. Perfluorinated compounds (PFOS and PFOA), chemicals found in fire-fighting foams, are considered toxic and produce reproductive and developmental effects in lab tests, according to the EPA.
According to the agency, PFOS were phased out of production between 2000 and 2002; production and use of PFOA was eliminated by the end of 2015. Still, the EPA says people can become exposed through drinking water if the chemicals have contaminated water supplies.
"Concern among Horsham’s residents has significantly increased since the EPA tightened its health advisory guideline for these contaminants in our drinking water," Boyle said in a press release posted to his Facebook page Monday. "A growing body of studies links these contaminants to various forms of cancer, thyroid disease and other health complications."
The EPA has indicated that drinking water with a certain level of PFOS and PFOA – 70 parts per trillion – is not expected to produce adverse health effects, even over a lifetime of exposure.
Still, Boyle says officials have failed in their commitment to the public, alleging that the Navy and the EPA have not presented the "latest science and known health risks posed to our community."
These compounds, found in public and private water wells in Montgomery and Bucks counties, are the subject of a fierce debate among residents, who say their life-threatening health problems are a direct result of unregulated use.
As of last month, residents in the Willow Grove, Warrington, Warminster and Horsham communities are eligible to receive free bottled water from the EPA if they have confirmed levels of the chemicals in their water.