Warminster Township Water Contamination Update and Resources
Water Contamination Background
PFOA and PFOS were discovered in the public and private drinking wells at, and nearby, the former Naval Air Warfare Center in Warminster and former Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Horsham, as well as the active Horsham National Air Guard Station. The substances were eventually determined to have resulted from chemical compounds contained in firefighting foam used during training activities on these military installations. Drinking water supplies have been impacted in Warminster, Warrington, Horsham and Upper Dublin. Contamination “plumes” migrate; therefore, adjacent and neighboring communities are susceptible to contamination as well.

Many residents believe these chemicals have adversely affected their health, and health experts were consulted by federal and state officials to determine the potential toxicity of these chemicals. Government officials have implored the federal government to closely examine these assertions and to provide funds to local water authorities for the immediate remediation of the contamination. Officials have also requested that remediation costs are not passed on to residents and that routine blood testing is offered to those most at risk.

Department of Health Impact Study

A PA Department of Health study was recently performed as part of a federally-funded, small sample pilot program and found some cancers to be elevated in Bucks and Montgomery communities where the contamination was first discovered close to the military site sources. The study indicated some cancer rates were higher among residents served by chemically-contaminated water systems, but the cancer levels fluctuated across communities and some incidents were lower than normal. Overall, the results of the study were deemed inconsistent and inconclusive.

The DOH has been studying cancer rates in Warminster, Warrington and Horsham over the past several years. In the new study, the focus was on cancer rates among residents served by the water systems, whereas prior studies used ZIP codes, including municipalities with water contamination issues.

Per the study, residents with private wells, where the highest chemical levels were detected, were not distinguished from those receiving public drinking water. Residents drinking from private wells would have direct exposure. Although higher than normal levels were also detected in public wells, this water is combined with other water delivered from varying sources in the system, making it nearly impossible to pinpoint the chemical levels contained in water brought to the homes serviced.

Hopefully, the small-sample blood testing program leads to a more expansive health study. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention foresees a larger study is forthcoming.

Currently, DOH is one of two agencies which has chosen to conduct the pilot blood testing program only in our communities. Over 500 randomly selected residents from all three townships were offered blood testing. DOH officials report it was a challenge to have located 484 people who expressed an interest in participating.

Blood testing results comparing local contaminant levels to national averages are expected to be released this fall. Until then, affected communities wait for the CDC to announce which areas across the country will be included in the larger study.

EPA Holds Meeting at Horsham High School
If you were unable to attend the July 25 meeting at Horsham High School with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), video links are copied below so that you can watch all or portions of the public discussion. A working session was held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. followed by a listening session from 4-9 p.m.

Because the files are large, the video is broken down into three files/links.

Each one is about an hour in length.

Part 1 (1 hour 11 minutes)
Part 2 (54 minutes)
Part 3 (49 minutes)

Relevant news stories:
Fox29
ABC6
Intelligencer
Philadelphia Inquirer

Blood Testing

In February 2018 the Department of Health received a grant from the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) to pilot a program to test resident exposure to polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in impacted areas of Bucks and Montgomery counties via blood testing. The study will provide feedback on the most effective methodology to be used to collect blood and health information from selected residents. The existing methodology was developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) to be used to execute a larger national study to be funded by the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Blood collection from selected participants will help fine tune the blood collection process, and at the same time, those selected will be provided with their test results along with an assessment comparison to the national average. The pilot program will be completed by June 1, 2018. The outcome will lay the scientific groundwork, protocol and baseline for the national study on the health impacts of PFAS that Congressman Fitzpatrick amended into law through the NDAA. He continues to advocate on the federal level to include our community in the national study which is expected to be announced later this year.

This is an independent project of the Department of Health. Our office has no authority to influence the selection of participants. However, we are hopeful this will lead to a large scale study for our residents in the near future. If you have any questions about PFAS or the Health Department’s response efforts contact them at env.health.concern@pa.gov

BLOOD TESTING UPDATE: Dr. Sharon Watkins from the Department of Health made a presentation on May 30th to update the community on the blood testing process. They increased their sample size to 500, although the Department of Health realizes that many residents not selected for the study will still have some health concerns. Therefore, she provided resource material for residents to share with their family physicians if they have PFC exposure concerns and want to explore blood testing on their own. See links below:

https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/emes/pfas_clinicians_training.html 

https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/pfas/docs/pfas_clinician_fact_sheet_508.pdf

Constituents concerned about blood testing are encouraged to contact the following Organizations and Agencies:

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR)
800-232-4643 http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/  

    Local ATSDR contacts: 
    Lora Werner 
    215-814-3141 
    lkw9@cdc.gov 

    Dr. Karl Markiewicz 
    215-814-3149 
    kvm4@cdc.gov 

Military Now in Fourth Year of Willow Grove Water Contamination Response

In 2015, the Air National Guard (ANG) completed a ground water assessment identifying potential perfluorinated compounds (PFOS/PFOA) release sites that have contaminated public wells in the area. The report also divulged more information on a pocket of contaminated water. Referred to as a “plume,” it contains PFAS contamination at high levels 50 to 200 feet below the ground surface. Since the initial report, levels of PFAS up to nearly 300,000 parts per trillion (ppt) have been found in groundwater, well above EPA’s safe level of 70 ppt.

The ANG installed a carbon filtration system on the base to capture and filter the contaminated water; however, during rainy weather, groundwater containing varying levels of PFAS runs off the base and into Park Creek, then into the Little Neshaminy. During a recent quarterly meeting of the former Willow Grove Air Base Restoration Advisory Board (RAB), the public audience was told that ANG would not have a remediation plan in place until 2019.

Currently, the ANG has a $13.5 million cooperative agreement with Warrington Township to install carbon filtration systems on public wells over 70 ppt and connect residents with PFOS/PFOA impacted private wells to public water over the next five years. Public water tests are now close to zero detect because of the filters and additional water being purchased from the North Wales Water Authority (NWWA) contracted over the next 10 years. Only five of those years are being paid for by the Air National Guard, which continues to monitor all public and private wells around the base's parameters. If you have a concern regarding your well, contact the ANG contractor David Side at David.Side@amecfiv.com or 610-877-6111.

Warrington still has four public wells that are off line and being regularly monitored. The contamination is above zero detect but below 70ppt, with PFOA levels rising due to contamination continuing from the base. These wells were not included in the cooperative agreement because they have not exceeded EPA limits. Rep. Watson has been working with U.S. congressmen and senators in Pennsylvania to advocate for the ANG to pay for the filtration systems for these four wells and all of the water being purchased from the NWWA, indefinitely. Rep. Watson encourages residents to attend quarterly public meetings hosted by the Navy and ANG RAB committee. The next two are May 30 and Sept. 12 at 6 p.m. at the Horsham Public Library.


Congressional Action

Fitzpatrick National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) Language Signed Into Law
Dec 12, 2017
President Donald Trump signs NDAA with PFC, Foreign Policy Amendments Added by Freshman Congressman Fitzpatrick. “From addressing water contamination from former and active military installations to putting American leadership and security first, I’m proud that the House accepted my amendments in overwhelming bipartisan fashion,” said Fitzpatrick.

Fitzpatrick’s water contamination amendments included in the final legislation:
  • Amendment No. 37: Directs the Secretary of Defense to conduct a study on the related health effects of exposure to PFOS/PFOA at military installations.
  • Amendment No. 290: Requires a report on the department’s progress developing and implementing alternatives to AFFF firefighting foam that do not contain perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), as the department has already begun.
For further information on Congressman Fitzpatrick PFC Water Contamination Initiatives, visit https://fitzpatrick.house.gov/pfoa-pfos.

Pennsylvania DEP Website

The PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has dedicated a webpage to posting results from the investigations and other information on PFOA and PFOS.


Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) held a PFAS National Summit Leadership Engagement Meeting on May 22nd and 23rd in Washington, DC to take action on Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) in the environment. EPA invited states, federal partners, territories, tribes and representatives from national organizations to attend. The objective was to share information on ongoing efforts, identify specific near-term actions and develop risk communication strategies to address public concerns. The EPA provided the opportunity for the public to join in a portion of the meeting via streaming online. To view the recorded portions of the meeting, please visit: https://www.epa.gov/newsroom/multimedia-pfas-national-leadership-summit

The EPA is providing the public with the opportunity to send written input. Input may be submitted by clicking here and then enter docket number: OW-2018-0270

Click here for information on the summit.

Meeting Materials
State Legislative Efforts

House Resolution 682

Adopted, April 9, 2018 - A resolution urging the United States Secretary of Health and Human Services to select the former Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Willow Grove, PA and the former Naval Air Warfare Center in Warminster, PA for an exposure assessment and study on human health implications of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (“PFASs”) contamination. This resolution will be transmitted to the President of the United States, United States Secretary of Health and Human Services, United States Secretary of Defense, the presiding officers of each house of Congress, and to each member of Congress from Pennsylvania. Click here to read the press release. http://www.kathywatson144.com/NewsItem.aspx?NewsID=270303

House Bill 1398 – Introduced by Rep. Watson to amend the act of October 18, 1988 (P.L.756, No.108), known as the Hazardous Sites Cleanup Act. PFOS and PFOA are not currently listed as hazardous substances under Pennsylvania’s Hazardous Sites Cleanup Act (HSCA); therefore, there is no recourse for PA residents or municipalities to seek assistance with clean water replacement, site cleanup, wastewater disposal and related health issues. The exposure is widespread. Toxicology studies show increased levels in blood serum, kidney and liver now linked with various cancers and illnesses. This legislation will add these substances, their equivalents and any substance designated by an executive order to pose a threat to public health and safety or the environment, as hazardous substances. In addition, the legislation directs DEP to, within 12 months of the establishment of a maximum contaminant level, health advisory level or provisional health advisory level for any substance, determine whether the substance should be designated by regulation as a hazardous substance. Referred to ENVIRONMENTAL RESOURCES AND ENERGY, May 18, 2017 Sen. Stewart Greenleaf introduced a companion bill in the Senate.

House Bill 1640 was introduced by Reps. Bernie O’Neill (R-Warminster) and Katharine Watson to help expedite state and federal assistance to municipalities with contaminated drinking water supplies. This would allow a Pennsylvania governor to make a declaration of disaster emergency, naming any community as a “special drinking water resource-impacted community” when analyses indicate the presence of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) in ground water or surface water measured at or exceeding 15 parts per trillion. This Bill was referred to the ENVIRONMENTAL RESOURCES AND ENERGY COMMITTEE on June 29, 2017.
 
House Resolution 916 directs the EPA and the Department of Defense to discover the extent of the contamination, provide complete remediation, fully evaluate the health consequences, and provide ongoing bio-monitoring to residents and military personnel who have been exposed to the water contamination from compounds previously used at the former Willow Grove Naval Air Station – Joint Reserve Base. 
 
Legislation to allow the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority (PennVEST) to grant funding to use the authority’s funds during the 2016-17 fiscal year, to provide grants for projects that update the public water infrastructure to ensure safe drinking water.
Co-sponsor memo
House Bill 2302 

Correspondence on the Issue:

Fact Sheets:

Meeting Updates

The Restoration Advisory Board (RAB) Quarterly Meetings hosted by Horsham Air Guard Station - The purpose of these meeting are to discuss comments or concerns that the community and RAB members may have regarding environmental issues including water contamination at the former Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base (NAS JRB) Willow Grove and the former Air Force Reserve Station (ARS), Willow Grove. Meetings are open to the public.

Upcoming Meeting Dates Open to the Public:

  • Sept. 12, 2018, at 6 p.m.
    Location: Horsham Library 435 Babylon Road, Horsham, PA 19044
  • December 12th at 2 p.m.
    Location: Horsham Library 435 Babylon Road, Horsham, PA 19044
March 30th Presentation Material: Meeting Minutes and Presentation for March 14, 2018

Dec. 13, 2017 Meeting Minutes

Sept. 13, 2017 Meeting Minutes

May 10, 2017 Meeting Minutes

Feb. 15, 2017 Meeting Minutes

Archived Minutes

Aug. 29, 2016 Joint Public Official Meeting on PFC Contamination. U.S. Reps. Brendan Boyle, D-13; Mike Fitzpatrick, R-8; and Patrick Meehan, R-7, hosted a health panel discussion on perfluorinated compound water contamination. Representatives from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and the Pennsylvania Department of Health provided information specific to the residents in Horsham, Warrington and Warminster whose drinking water was contaminated with the chemicals perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), which are suspected carcinogens, according to the EPA. We have provided links to those presentations below:

EPA Presentation by Karen Johnson: EPA Presentation

CDC/ATSDR Presentation by Dr. Karl Markiewicz: CDC/ATSDR Presentation

PA Dept. of Health Presentation by Dr. Sharon Watkins: PaDOH Presentation
ATSDR Cancer Data Study that Dr. Watkins presentation refereed to: ATSDR Cancer Study

Air National Guard Presentation by Keith Freihofer: ANG Presentation

Department of the Navy Presentation by Greg Preston: Dept of Navy Presentation 
  
Articles:

Well Testing and Safe Water:

NEW Private Well Sampling Area (As of 12 Jan. 2018)

Effective Sept 1, 2017, Amec Foster Wheeler Co. will be providing sampling & water delivery inquiries for the Air National Guard in Warrington.
Contact:
David Side
david.side@amecfw.com or 610-877-6111 for information.

For Information on drinking water, contact:

  • DEP Safe Drinking Water 484-250-5980
  • DEP Clean Water 484-250-5970

For Information on private well testing:

U.S. EPA
Eduardo Rovira, On Scene-Coordinator
215-814-3436
Rovira.eduardo@epa.gov
 
U.S. EPA
Ruth Scharr, On Scene-Coordinator
215-756-7897
Scharr.ruth@epa.gov
 
Willow Grove Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base
Willington Lin
BRAC Environmental Coordinator
215-897-4904
Willie.Lin@navy.mil  

Air National Guard
Keith Freihofer,
Environmental Restoration
Program Manager
3501 Fetchet Ave., Shepperd Hall,
Joint Base Andrews, MD 20762
240-612-8762
keith.e.freihofer.civ@mail.mil  

Maps:
Private Well Sampling Map

Links: