The Navy is requesting permission to sample drinking water obtained from wells near NBK-Bangor for certain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, commonly known as PFAS.
Property owners and tenants who drink water from a well on a property located within the sampling area that was not previously sampled by the Navy may request sampling at either open house, or by calling 844-625-2647 (844-NBKBNGR) and leaving a message, or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Appointments are currently being scheduled between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. from September 21 to 29 (additional times available upon request).
If your drinking water is provided by a public water system, the Navy does not need to sample your drinking water.
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a family of thousands of different chemicals that have been widely used in industrial and consumer products since the 1950s. PFAS are man-made and have been used in many household and industrial products because of their stain- and water-repellent properties. PFAS are now present virtually everywhere in the world.
The most common activity that could have resulted in the historical release of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), and other PFAS to the environment at Navy installations is the use of firefighting foam (specifically, aqueous film-forming foam, or AFFF) for testing, training, firefighting, and other life-saving emergency responses. Because of this historical use, there is potential for PFOA, PFOS, and other PFAS to be in the groundwater on base, and may be present in nearby drinking water wells that are located in the direction that the groundwater flows away from the base. The Navy, Marine Corps and Department of Defense (DoD) have developed proactive policies to address past releases of PFAS, including PFOA and PFOS, at installations nationwide.
Once these compounds are released, many of them tend to stay in the environment for a very long time. Although the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has started the process to establish regulatory levels for several PFAS in drinking water, there are currently no Safe Drinking Water Act regulatory standards. The EPA has developed drinking water health advisories for a small number of PFAS; these advisories are non-enforceable and non-regulatory. The advisories provide technical information to states and other public health officials on health effects, analytical methodologies, and treatment technologies.
For now, the Navy is continuing to follow the policy it issued in June 2016 to conduct investigations at installations where there has been a known or suspected release of PFAS to the environment. The first priority with these investigations is to ensure that PFOA and PFOS concentrations in drinking water wells are not above 70 parts per trillion (ppt), individually or combined, as a result of Navy operations.
DoD, including the Navy, is moving toward complete removal of AFFF at its installations and is transitioning to PFAS-free alternatives to AFFF. Until that transition is complete, the Navy will continue to use formulations that contain lower concentrations of PFOA and PFOS than many historical AFFF formulations and will continue to take steps to prevent or minimize additional release of firefighting foam to the environment.
On March 14, 2023, the EPA proposed a draft regulatory drinking water standard for certain PFAS, including PFOA and PFOS. In response, DoD has issued the following statement: "DoD respects and values the public comment process on this proposed nationwide drinking water rule and looks forward to the clarity that a final regulatory drinking water standard for PFAS will provide. In anticipation of the final standard that EPA expects to publish by the end of 2023, the DoD is assessing what actions DoD can take to be prepared to incorporate EPA’s final regulatory standard into our current cleanup process, such as reviewing our existing data and conducting additional sampling where necessary. In addition, DoD will incorporate nationwide PFAS cleanup guidance, issued by EPA and applicable to all owners and operators under the federal cleanup law, as to when to provide alternate water when PFAS are present."
Off-Base Drinking Water Sampling Near NBK-Bangor (Figure 1)
PFOA and/or PFOS have been detected in groundwater at NBK-Bangor above 70 ppt. When a known or suspected release of PFAS is identified on a Navy installation and groundwater is used as drinking water, a sampling area is established 1 mile in the direction that groundwater flows away from a release area. The Navy offers sampling to all property owners and tenants whose property is within the sampling area and whose drinking water is supplied by groundwater.
Figure 1: Location Map of NBK-Bangor
At this time, the Navy is only asking to sample drinking water wells on properties located in the sampling area (Figure 2) that have not been previously sampled by the Navy. Records indicate that some properties within the sampling area are provided drinking water by public water systems. Property owners and tenants should contact the public water systems with any questions regarding treatment and testing of publicly provided drinking water. If your drinking water well was previously sampled by the Navy, or if your drinking water is provided by a public water system, the Navy does not need to sample your drinking water at this time.
Figure 2. Sampling Area
Actions Based on Off-Base Drinking Water Sampling Results
The preliminary results from the off-base drinking water sampling near NBK-Bangor are expected approximately 30 days after collecting the samples. The Navy will notify the property owner and tenant of whether their drinking water well contains PFOA and/or PFOS above or below 70 ppt. If their drinking water contains PFOA and/or PFOS above 70 ppt, an appointment will be made as soon as possible to deliver bottled water and to set up a regular water delivery service for drinking and cooking. The Navy will do its best to keep the testing results and property information confidential to the extent permitted by law.
2020 Off-Base Drinking Water Sampling
The Navy conducted off-base PFAS drinking water well sampling in 2020 based on information that was available at the time about releases of PFAS on-base. The 2020 sampling area, shown in Figure 3, was established 1 mile in the direction that groundwater was understood to flow away from the areas where PFAS may have been released. Table 1 summarizes the results of the previous sampling. In Table 2, the results are listed from highest to lowest results for PFOA and PFOS combined. PFOA and/or PFOS were above 70 ppt in two private drinking water wells. Both properties were provided with bottled water for drinking and cooking. The Navy is still providing bottled water for drinking and cooking to one of the two properties. The Navy has sampled the other property multiple times over the years and PFOA and/or PFOS have not been above 70 ppt since the first sample was collected and the current data does not indicate a long-term removal action is required to protect human health at this residence.
Figure 3. 2020 Sampling Area Results Summary
Table 2. Off-Base Drinking Water Well Results
Long-term Solution Evaluation
The Navy prepared an Engineering Evaluation and Cost Analysis (EE/CA) to evaluate long-term solutions for the property with the drinking water well containing PFOA and PFOS above 70 ppt. The EE/CA was available for public comment from June 12 to July 12, 2023, and was finalized in August 2023.
Identification of PFAS Releases at NBK-Bangor
Across the country, the Navy has been conducting base-wide evaluations to identify potential PFAS releases. These evaluations are being conducted under the federal cleanup program which meets the requirements of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). Following CERCLA, the Navy’s installation-wide assessments are called preliminary assessments/site inspections, and their purpose is to verify, validate, and update the inventory of PFAS release areas on the installation for further investigation and potential cleanup. The 2020 Preliminary Assessment (PA) conducted at NBK-Bangor identified the following 23 on-base PFAS Release Areas, listed in Table 3.
From April to October 2022, groundwater and soil samples were collected from twenty-two of these areas and analyzed as part of a Site Inspection (SI). One area, Floral Point, was not investigated for PFAS because the area is covered in a soil cap installed during a previous investigation that prevents collection of soil and groundwater samples. PFOA and/or PFOS were detected in shallow groundwater above 70 ppt (Figure 4). Additionally, information was collected to evaluate the direction that groundwater flows away from the areas that were investigated. The SI will be final in 2023 and the Navy will continue on-base PFAS investigations and evaluate if additional actions are needed on base.
Figure 4. PFAS SI Areas