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area 6

The Navy is requesting permission to sample drinking water obtained from wells near the Area 6 Landfill at Naval Air Station (NAS) Whidbey Island to test for certain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, commonly known as PFAS.

 

Property owners who drink water from a well on a property located within the sampling area may request sampling at either the open house, by calling 1-844-WHI-PFAS (1-844-944-7327) and leaving a message, or by sending an email to naswi.pfas@jacobs.com. Appointments are currently being scheduled between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. from February 2nd to 9th (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.

 

Introduction
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a family of thousands of different chemicals which 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 Department of Defense (DoD), including the Navy, have developed proactive policies to address past releases of PFAS, including perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS), at installations nationwide.
 
The most common activity that could have resulted in the historical release of PFOA, 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, or associated disposal practices. Because of this historical use, PFOA, PFOS, and other PFAS have been detected in the groundwater on base and in nearby drinking water wells that are located in the direction that the groundwater flows away from the base.
 
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 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." At this time, the Navy is authorized to use 70 ppt as an action level for PFOA and PFOS in drinking water, whether individually or combined.

 

Off-Base Drinking Water Sampling near the Area 6 Landfill at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island (Figure 1)
PFOA and PFOS have been detected in groundwater at the Area 6 Landfill 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 whose property is within the sampling area and whose drinking water is supplied by groundwater.

Figure 1: Location Map of Naval Air Station Whidbey Island


At this time, the Navy is only asking to sample drinking water wells 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 (Figure 2) are provided drinking water by public water systems. Property owners should contact their 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, if your drinking water well is part of the Navy’s twice-per-year PFAS drinking water sampling program, 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 the Area 6 Landfill are expected approximately 30 days after collecting the samples. We provide notification to the property owners (and tenants, if possible) of their drinking water results and any follow-up actions, if needed.

The Navy will provide bottled water for drinking and cooking to any property in the sampling area with a drinking water well that contains PFOA and/or PFOS above 70 ppt and does not have an alternate drinking water source available. The Navy will continue to provide bottled water until a long-term solution is implemented.


2018-2023 Area 6 Landfill Off-Base Drinking Water Sampling
The Navy conducted off-base PFAS drinking water well sampling near the Area 6 Landfill in 2018-2019 based on information that was available at that time regarding potential releases of PFAS on-base. The 2018 sampling area (Figure 3) was established in the direction that groundwater flows away from the Area 6 Landfill. PFOA and/or PFOS were detected above 70 ppt in five drinking water wells. In 2019, the sampling area was expanded in the direction of groundwater flow and PFOA and/or PFOS were detected above 70 ppt in one additional drinking water well. Property owners and tenants served by the 6 drinking water wells were provided bottled water for drinking and cooking while a long-term solution was evaluated, and in 2022, the impacted properties were connected to the City of Oak Harbor Water System. In December 2023, as part of the twice per year sampling program, a drinking water well within the 2018 sampling area had PFOA and/or PFOS detected above 70 ppt. The Navy will continue to provide bottled water to this homeowner until a long-term solution is implemented.

Table 1 provides a summary of the results of the previous sampling. Table 2 presents the results of PFOA and PFOS, individually and combined; results are listed from lowest to highest detection of PFOA and PFOS (combined).  


Figure 3: 2018-2019 Area 6 Landfill Sampling Area Results Summary




Table 2. 2018-2023 Area 6 Landfill Off-Base Drinking Water Well Sampling Results

 

Identification of PFAS Releases at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Ault Field
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.

In 2018, a Preliminary Assessment (PA) was completed for Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Ault Field (including Area 6 Landfill), that identified 35 areas where releases of PFAS may have occurred. The PA was finalized in November 2018 and can be found here.

In the 2018, sample collection and analysis of groundwater and soil was completed at the Area 6 Landfill in support of the Site Inspection (SI). PFOA and/or PFOS were detected in shallow groundwater above 70 ppt at the Area 6 Landfill. The SI Report was finalized in 2020 and can be found here.

A Remedial Investigation (RI) was conducted in 2023 which included additional groundwater and soil sample collection and analysis. Additional information about groundwater flow was obtained and PFOA and/or PFOS were detected in shallow groundwater above 70 ppt in additional wells at the Area 6 Landfill (Figure 4). Based on this new information, in 2024, the Navy established a new proposed drinking water sampling area 1 mile from detections of PFOA and/or PFOS above 70 ppt in the direction that groundwater flows away from the detections (Figure 2). The Navy will continue on-base PFAS investigations and evaluate if additional actions are needed. Final documents are under Area 6 On-Base PFAS Investigation Documents. More information will be added to this website as it is available.

 
Figure 4: Summary of PFOA and PFOS Results in Shallow Groundwater in the RI


If you have any questions, please contact one of the Public Affairs Officers listed below.

MEDIA CONTACT
Mike Welding, NASWI Public Affairs Officer
Email: michael.welding@navy.mil 
Office: 360-257-2962
Mobile: 360-914-7915
PUBLIC CONTACT
NAVFAC Northwest Public Affairs Office
Email: navfacnwpao@us.navy.mil
Phone: 360-340-5592
Area 6 Landfill Drinking Water Sampling Documents

Area 6 PFAS Fact Sheet
NASWI Drinking Water Open House Posters (February 2024)

Final Construction Completion Report for Oak Harbor Drinking Water Removal Actions, September 2023
Final Sampling and Analysis Plan Periodic Off-Base Drinking Water Sampling, OLF and Ault Field (October 2022)
NASWI PFAS Fall 2021 Drinking Water Tech Memo (Apr 2022)
NASWI PFAS Periodic Drinking Water Tech Memo (Dec 2021)
NASWI PFAS Periodic Drinking Water Tech Memo (Dec 2020)
Final Action Memorandum, Long-Term Solutions for Drinking Water Wells near Ault Field and Area 6, June 2020
Final Engineering Evaluation Cost Analysis Long-Term Solutions for Ault Field and Area 6 Drinking Water, March 2020
Final Sampling and Analysis Plan Periodic Off-Base Drinking Water Sampling, OLF, Ault Field, Area 6 (April 2020)
Area 6 Off-Base Drinking Water and Groundwater Sampling Fact Sheet Update, October 2019
Ault Field, OLF, and Area 6 Drinking Water Re-Sampling Results (April 2019)
Area 6 Off-Base Drinking Water Re-Sampling Results, August 2018
Final Sampling and Analysis Plan Addendum Periodic Off-Base Drinking Water Sampling, OLF, Ault Field, Area 6 (October 2018)
Area 6 Phase 2 Drinking Water and Groundwater Sampling Poster, June 2018
Area 6 Phase 2 Off-Base Drinking Water and Groundwater Sampling Fact Sheet, June 2018
Area 6 Phase 1 Drinking Water and Groundwater Sampling Poster, January 2018
Area 6 Phase 1 Off-Base Drinking Water and Groundwater Sampling Fact Sheet, January 2018
Final Emergency Response Action Memorandum, Ault Field, OLF Coupeville, February 2017

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