The United States Department of Defense has struggled to clean up military bases contaminated with harmful chemicals called PFAS. A review by nonprofit working groups found that out of 50 Air Force or Navy bases with high PFAS contamination, only nine have started making plans to clean up. But none of these plans have been completed, and very little actual cleaning has begun.

Bensalem, Pennsylvania, USA – February 7, 2019; Firefighting foam remains on the ground surface following a tanker truck accident. Aqueous film forming foam AFFF used to fight flammable liquid fires can contain sodium alkyl sulfate, fluorotelomers, perfluorooctanoic acid PFOA or perflourooctanesulfonic acid PFOS.

DOD Testing at Bases

Over five years ago, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) asked the Defense Department to test for PFAS in drinking water at 63 military bases. Since then, researchers have found and mapped 703 military sites where PFAS has been released or is suspected to be. At most of the bases, the Defense Department has only finished the first step of the cleanup process, which is inspecting to see how much PFAS is there. This is just the beginning of the process outlined in the Superfund law for cleaning up environmental contamination.

List of Contaminated Military Bases

The DOD identified PFAS contamination at all military branch installations. Generally, they found high levels of contamination associated with airports because the military uses enormous amounts of PFAS containing firefighting foam. Therefore, the DOD list of sites contaminated with PFAS includes Air Force Bases, Naval Air Stations, and Army Bases. The list of states is as follows:

Health and Military Base Contamination

The impact of PFAS contamination on military bases is serious and has several effects. Firstly, it puts the health of service members health problems, their families, and people living nearby at risk. PFAS exposure can lead to like cancer, immune system issues, and trouble with reproduction. Secondly, it makes managing water resources difficult because contaminated groundwater and soil need a lot of work to clean up, which can take a long time, sometimes even decades. Lastly, it costs a lot of money for the military to clean up and deal with the consequences of PFAS.

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