Lawmakers to Introduce Bill Authorizing DOD Funding for PFOA/PFOS Health Screenings
WASHINGTON – Congressmen Brendan Boyle (D-PA), Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and Patrick Meehan (R-PA) today announced they would soon introduce legislation that authorizes the Department of Defense to fund subsidized health screenings for residents in communities affected by water contamination due to nearby active or former military installations.
It’s the latest step the lawmakers have taken to aid residents of Horsham, Montgomery County after the presence PFOA and PFOS chemical compounds was discovered in several public and private water wells. The compounds’ presence is the result of their use in firefighting foam at the former Willow Grove Naval Air Station. Similar compounds have been found near the former Naval Air Warfare Center in Warminster, Bucks County.
Meehan and Boyle have been working for some time with the Department of Defense, the Defense Appropriations Committee and the House Armed Services Committee on drafting legislation to have the Department provide blood tests for residents. Existing law that does not explicitly authorize the Defense Department to provide tests to civilians has been an obstacle.
“As the Horsham and Warminster communities deal with years – if not decades – of past exposure to these chemicals at the hands of our military,” said Congressman Boyle, “we must make sure the federal government makes our communities whole in every sense – from providing safe drinking water to empowering citizens with basic information regarding potential health impacts.”
Boyle added, “Our communities are the first of many across the country to likely experience these issues and grapple with these serious questions. The Department of Defense must set the correct precedent by doing the right thing and providing health screenings in addition to funding water infrastructure improvements for our impacted communities. We have constituently asked them to do so. This legislation makes clear they have no excuse not to do so.”
“Residents who for years have been drinking water contaminated with these compounds have a right to know the extent of their exposure,” said Congressman Meehan. “Health screenings are an effective way to help residents determine how much of these chemicals they’ve ingested. They will help residents and their doctors make more informed health decisions. And they will help the federal government determine what steps will need to be taken to do right by these communities.”
“We need to change the law to explicitly authorize the Pentagon to pay for these kinds of health screenings. Hardworking middle class families and cash-strapped municipal governments should not have to bear the cost of these screenings on their own,” Meehan said. “The federal government caused this contamination, and the federal government has an obligation to make it right. If the Architect of the Capitol can provide tests to Members of Congress and staff, the Navy should be able to provide it to Pennsylvania families.”
Free health screenings are currently being provided to Members of Congress and congressional staff after high levels of lead were recently detected in the water in the Cannon House Office Building.