LEXINGTON PARK, Md. – The following release was recently put out by the St. Mary’s River Watershed Association regarding PFAS contamination.
“The Navy has disclosed PFAS contamination in soils and surface waters at three sites in southern Maryland—Patuxent Naval Air Station, Webster Outlying Field, and the Naval Research Center. The levels of PFAS detected are alarming and pose a significant threat to the immediate areas, to nearby waterways, and to our deep aquifers where most of us get our drinking water. And yet the Navy has suggested there is no threat to our aquifers because they are below impervious confining clay layers. “There is no threat of migration to the deep aquifer…” one Navy spokesperson told SMRWA at the March 3, 2020 meeting held at the Lexington Park Library.
The science does not support the Navy’s position. First, other toxins such as the gasoline additive MTBE has migrated into confined aquifers in many locations nationwide. The EPA warns of this type of contamination on their website. PFAS is highly soluble, like MTBE, and readily migrates through groundwater and soils. Maybe our confining layers are more impervious than other places?
Second, there are tens of thousands of wells roughly 200 or more feet down to the aquifers and each one is a conduit between the surface and the aquifer below. Each one poses a slight threat as a route for PFAS to enter our drinking water supply. Abandoned wells are most likely to pose the biggest threat. How many were properly sealed? And there are some that have sunk below the surface of the Chesapeake as our land area subsides and Bay waters rise. Were these sealed properly? Salt water intrusion has occurred in some parts of the state—where did the salt water come from? Answer: Above a confining clay layer.
The Navy should come clean on this fact—our aquifers are threatened. The Navy needs to quickly step up and begin testing private and public wells in and around these three contamination sites. A long term monitoring program of these wells should also be funded and implemented to insure no future contamination occurs. Clean-up of these sites must begin immediately before PFAS migrates out and down.”