Congressmen Push U.S. Department of Defense to Increase Funding for Water Contamination Correction Efforts
WASHINGTON – Congressmen Brendan Boyle (D-PA), Patrick Meehan (R-PA.) and Michael Fitzpatrick (R-PA) met today with the U.S. Department of Defense’s (DOD) point-person for PFC water contamination, Maureen Sullivan, Director of Environmental Management for the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense Installations and Environment. Sullivan is overseeing the DOD’s response to PFC contamination from firefighting foams nationwide. The Congressmen discussed their recent requests made of the DOD regarding communities surrounding the former Naval Air Warfare Center Warminster, former Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Willow Grove, and Horsham Air Guard Station in Pennsylvania.
The congressional trio is pushing the Navy and the Air National Guard to provide additional funding governing the remediation effort. Specific issues addressed include costs for additional filtration systems on public and private wells as needed, infrastructure improvements required to deliver clean, safe drinking water from nearby water authorities, and funding to offset water rate increases experienced by local customers. Rate hikes are attributed directly to costs incurred to mitigate the contamination and provide clean drinking water to residents in affected areas. All three congressmen feel it is the Navy’s responsibility to shoulder that financial burden, not the water utilities or their customers.
In addition to costs of water purchases, the three Pennsylvania congressmen also demanded action by the Navy on recent requests they’ve made regarding funding of blood tests, health studies. Recently, Congressmen Boyle, Meehan and Fitzpatrick and Senators Casey and Toomey asked the Navy to provide health screenings for Horsham and Warminster residents. In response, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy Karnig Ohannessian explained that, after consultation with the CDC’s ATSDR, blood testing was not advisable in these communities. The Congressmen also hosted an August health expert panel discussion in Horsham.
During the meeting, the congressmen also requested an update on the DOD’s plans for addressing firefighting foam contamination nationwide, as well as their legislation to clarify the DOD’s authority to fund blood testing and health studies in impacted communities like the ones they represent.