In June 2023, the Navy sampled drinking water wells near Naval Base Kitsap-Manchester (NBK-Manchester) to test for certain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, commonly known as PFAS. For questions about this sampling, please contact Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command Northwest Public Affairs Office at email@example.com or 360-340-5592.
The Navy and Department of Defense (DoD) have developed proactive policies to address past releases of PFAS, including perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (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. 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.
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 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."
Off-Base Drinking Water Sampling Near NBK-Manchester (Figure 1)
PFOA and PFOS have been detected in groundwater at-NBK Manchester 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 of groundwater flow from where PFOA and/or PFOS have been detected above 70 ppt. The Navy offers sampling to all property owners and tenants whose property is within the sampling area and whose drinking water is sourced from groundwater supplied directly from a drinking water well.
Figure 1: Location Map of NBK-Manchester
Records indicate that most properties within the sampling area (Figure 2) are provided drinking water by Manchester Water District (MWD). If your drinking water is provided by a public water system, the Navy does not need to sample your drinking water. Property owners and tenants should contact MWD with any questions regarding treatment and testing of publicly provided drinking water.
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-Manchester are expected approximately 30 days after collecting the samples. The Navy provides notification to the property owners and tenants of their drinking water results and any follow-up actions, if needed. The Navy will do its best to keep the testing results and property information confidential to the extent permitted by law.
The Navy will provide bottled water at no charge 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. Bottled water is provided within 24 hours of the preliminary results being received by the Navy if results are above 70 ppt. Final laboratory results are mailed to each property owner and tenant after all data are verified and final. The Navy will continue to provide bottled water until a long-term solution is implemented.
2023 Off-Base Drinking Water Sampling Results
In June 2023, the Navy team initiated the sampling of drinking water from wells within the designated sampling area near NBK-Manchester (Figure 2). Table 1 summarizes the drinking water sampling results to-date. Table 2 presents the PFOA, PFOS, and PFOA+PFOS results. The Navy called each property owner and tenant upon receipt of their preliminary results to let them know if their water contained PFOA and/or PFOS above or below 70 ppt. Out of respect for the privacy of the property owner and tenant, individual results are provided only to each property owner and tenant.
Table 1. NBK-Manchester - Off-Base Drinking Water Results as of August 31, 2023
Table 2. NBK-Manchester - Off-Base Drinking Water Summary of Detections as of August 31, 2023
Identification of PFAS Releases at NBK-Manchester
The 2021 Preliminary Assessment (PA) conducted at NBK-Manchester identified 8 on-base areas listed in Table 3, where releases of PFAS may have occurred. The PA was finalized in May 2021 and can be found here.
Table 3. PFAS Release Areas Investigated at NBK-Manchester
A Site Inspection (SI) was initiated in 2022 to investigate these 8 areas (Figure 3). From September to October 2022, the Navy completed sample collection and analysis of groundwater and soil at 7 areas and surface water and sediment samples at 1 area in support of the SI. PFOA and/or PFOS were detected in shallow groundwater on-base above 70 ppt (Figure 3). The SI will be finalized in 2023 and the Navy will continue on-base PFAS investigations and evaluate if additional actions are needed on base.
Figure 3: Site Inspection Areas