The Navy began testing groundwater sources near NASA Crows Landing Airport and Test Facility, formerly known as Naval Auxiliary Landing Field Crows Landing, in October. Testing is being done voluntarily by the Navy to determine if private wells or groundwater sources have been contaminated with perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) or perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS).
Per-and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) are a family of manufactured chemicals that have been in use since the mid-twentieth century. PFAS may be found in stain- and water-repellent products, lubricants, corrosion inhibitors, cable insulation, and many other industrial and commercial products.
PFAS compounds may be present in the soil or the groundwater at NASA Crows Landing due to the use of aqueous film-forming foam. AFFF is a firefighting foam that has historically been used by the Navy 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 the former base, and it may also be present in nearby off base drinking water wells located in the direction that the groundwater flows away from the former base. Twenty seven (27) private wells have been identified to be within one mile and downgradient of potential PFAS release areas.”
The wells being tested are all on private land and are not wells used by the City of Patterson to supply residents with drinking water. The City of Patterson’s water supply is not currently being tested by the Navy, and there is no evidence that would suggest it will be in the future.
Although the Environmental Protection Agency has issued lifetime health advisories in regard to PFAS, the chemicals have no Safe Drinking Water Act regulatory standards or routine testing requirements. Further, the EPA’s lifetime health advisories are non-enforceable and non-regulatory. Lifetime health advisories “provide information to states, agencies, and other public health officials on health effects, analytical methodologies, and treatment technologies associated with impacted drinking water.”
Until a decision for regulating PFAS is made, the Navy will continue to proactively investigate installations that are known or suspected to have had a PFAS release to ensure that people are not being exposed to PFOA or PFOS in their drinking water at concentrations exceeding the EPA’s advisory.
Residents whose private drinking water wells were tested can expect to receive their test results by the end of November.
In the event a private drinking water source is contaminated beyond the EPA’s lifetime advisory of 70 parts per trillion for PFOA, 70 parts per trillion for PFOS, or if contaminated by both 70 parts per trillion combined, the Navy will provide an alternate water source for drinking and cooking until a permanent solution is implemented.