Navy to test drinking water near base for contamination

BREMERTON, Wash. -- The Navy will test the drinking water of residents whose homes border Naval Base-Kitsap to determine whether there are dangerous levels of contamination from firefighting foam once used at Bangor.

The Kitsap Sun reports that if any homes in areas bordering the base are found to have what are commonly called PFAS in dangerous concentrations, they will receive bottled water indefinitely.

The Navy will pay for testing for homes on their own wells and is informing more than 1,000 addresses via letters sent Thursday. Water districts that serve the area, including Silverdale and the Kitsap Public Utilities District, have already begun testing after being notified by the Navy last week.

Capt. Richard Rhinehart, Naval Base Kitsap’s commanding officer, told the newspaper the Navy is taking a “proactive approach to test the water from these unregulated compounds.”

“We are working closely with our local community to identify if there is contaminated well water and, if found, to take appropriate action to protect the resident’s health,” Rhinehart said. “We deeply care about our community and are working with them to address this important and emerging health issue.”

The contaminants, known as “per and polyfouoroalkyl substances” and commonly called PFAS, have been in use in everything from household items to industrial uses for decades. Its prevalence in cookware, carpets, rain jackets and even food wrappers mean certain levels are present in our bloodstream. But health officials say once there’s too much — around 70 parts per trillion — it can be dangerous.

In a letter Friday to acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas B. Modly, U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, and Washington Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell requested more information about the Navy’s plan and asked the Navy to act with increased urgency. They requested the Navy to provide bottled water to homes now before testing is complete.