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Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter

Representing the 1st District of New Hampshire

Shea-Porter Secures Legislation to Address Pease Groundwater Contamination

July 14, 2017
Press Release
House Passes Provisions to Create National PFC Health Impact Study, Hold Department of Defense Accountable for Clean-Up

WASHINGTON, DC –Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) secured legislation to address perfluorinated chemical (PFC) contamination around military bases, including Pease Air National Guard Base, in today’s House-passed 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

“Community members who live near contaminated sites like Pease deserve answers about how they and their children may be affected by perfluorinated chemicals, and guidance on what steps they can and should take to protect their health,” said Shea-Porter. “Bipartisan support for the provisions secured today reflects the national scope of PFC contamination around military bases across the country.”

The annual defense authorization bill, which Shea-Porter helped to write as a member of the House Armed Services Committee, includes:

  • A Shea-Porter cosponsored amendment directing the Department of Defense to conduct a health impact study on the effects of exposure to PFCs at affected military installations, including Pease.
  • Shea-Porter’s provision directing the Secretary of Defense to brief the House Armed Services Committee on:
    • The locations near current and former military installations where the Department has tested drinking water system PFC levels and a summary of the results of those tests, including whether they exceeded lifetime health advisory levels;
    • The Department’s short-term mitigation actions in locations where elevated PFC levels have been identified, such as Pease; and
    • The process and timeline for long-term remediation actions in locations with elevated PFC levels.
  • A Shea-Porter cosponsored amendment requiring a report on the Department of Defense’s progress developing and implementing alternatives to firefighting foam containing PFCs that was used at more than 600 U.S. military fire training sites, including Pease.

 

BACKGROUND

Beginning in the 1970s, more than 600 U.S. military fire training sites used Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF), a firefighting foam that contained perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS). Testing conducted by the Department of Defense at many of these sites has found PFC groundwater levels that exceed EPA guidelines many times over. At Pease, it is 12.5 times higher than the health advisory. In fact, a 2016 study by researchers at Harvard University’s Chan School of Public Health and Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences found that public drinking water for six million Americans exceeds the EPA’s lifetime advisory limits for perfluorinated chemicals.

Because of the broad scope of PFOA and PFOS use by entities including the U.S military, contaminated drinking water now poses a nationwide public health threat. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), PFOA is especially problematic “because it can stay in the environment and in the human body for long periods of time.” Numerous peer-reviewed studies indicate health dangers of perfluorinated chemicals, including links to testicular, kidney, and thyroid cancer and impaired immune system performance, decreased fertility, and harm to a developing fetus or child. However, ACS says “more research is needed to clarify these findings,” because a comprehensive, long-term study of the health impacts of PFOA and PFOS has not yet been conducted.