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May 21, 2016

Pennsylvania provides free bottled water to residents near NAWC, WGNAS

Politics Drinking Water
03102016_NAWC_Werner_Field_GM Google/StreetView

The view along Kirk Road, looking toward Jacksonville Road, in Warminster, Bucks County. At left, beyond the fence, is the area where fire training exercises using PFOS-containing firefighting foam took place at the former Naval Air Warfare Center. At right is Werner Field, home of the Warminster Pioneers youth football teams.

Pennsylvania is distributing free bottled water to some residents of Horsham, Warrington and Warminster after the U.S. Environment Protection Agency announced new advisory levels for two industrial chemicals found in their drinking water.

Related story: Military to check whether foam contaminated wells near former NAWC, WGNAS

Governor Tom Wolf and Representative Todd Stephens announced on Thursday that some residents in the area of the former Willow Grove Naval Air Station in Horsham and the former Naval Air Warfare Center in Warminster had dangerous levels of the industrial chemicals perfluorooctane sulphonate (PFOS) or perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA).

The EPA on Thursday announced new drinking water health advisory levels — .07 parts per billion (ppb) — for PFOA and PFOS, a much lower threshold than the agency's 2009 levels of .4 ppb for PFOA and .2 ppb for PFOS. Where both contaminants are present, the EPA suggests a maximum combined level of .07 ppb. 

Unlike the 2009 levels, the new standards assume lifetime exposure to the chemicals and are based on more current research.

The chemicals were used in firefighting foam at both former Navy bases.

“We are taking precautionary action to ensure all residents in the area are receiving water until we receive further guidance from the EPA on this matter,” Wolf said.

“I appreciate the governor and DEP working with us to provide safe drinking water to local residents,” Stephens said. “Until the EPA ensures the water coming from our faucets is safe for everyone to drink, the state must continue to protect its residents.”

The free bottled water was made available Thursday as soon as the EPA announced the new advisory levels.