ANNAPOLIS, Md. - A recent report released by "The Environmental Working Group" claims at least nine military facilities around the Chesapeake Bay are responsible for contaminants that are impacting water and wildlife, and possibly even making people sick.
The U.S. Naval Academy is among the installations from Maryland to Virginia named in the report.
The containment involved is nicknamed "forever chemical" or "PFAS," which is short for perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances. There are human-made chemicals used since the 1940s that do not break down in the environment.
The CDC says PFAS can cause significant health effects, such as cancer, liver damage and decreased fertility.
The report’s writers claimed to have scoured thousands of documents obtained from the Department of Defense.
The Maryland installations cited in the report include the Aberdeen Proving Ground, Martin State Air National Guard Base, the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory Chesapeake Bay Detachment, Blossom Point and the Patuxent River Naval Air Station.
The Virginia installations include Langley Air Force Base, Fort Eustis and Naval Weapons Station Yorktown.
PFAS can be found in water-resistant fabrics, non-stick cookware – and fire-fighting foams that we’re told the Department of Defense created decades ago to attack jet fuel fires. The report points those the foam being used at various military installations as the the cause of contamination in ground water, which the authors say is seeping into the Chesapeake Bay.
"This is one of the real problems with PFAS. Even though the department of Defense has known for decades that there are health risks associated with PFAS. Even though the EPA has known for more than 20 years about the risk from PFAS and the manufactures who have been making PFAS have known for 50-years about the risk from PFAS. The Government has been slow to regulate," said Environmental Working Group attorney Melanie Benesh.
Right now there is only EPA guidance that says there should not be more than 70 parts per trillion PFAS in drinking water. However, this cannot be enforced since there is federal regulation.
The EWG found Langley to be the largest offender at2.2 million PPT of a type of PFAS in the groundwater. The group says 70,000 PPT was found at the U.S. Naval Academy.
The group is not saying it’s not safe to go in the water, but they are cautioning people about the groundwater, oystering and crabbing in the areas by the military installations flagged.
State leaders are trying to investigate this, but the DOD and federal government have the authority over the states in investigation and clean-up.
In 2019, the DOD created a task force and last year noted 108 different military installations were identified as being assessed to find whether contaminates were released from that site.