The Navy and Coupeville’s “path forward” to the solution of the town’s PFAS-contaminated water supply is a slow one that won’t get people the clean water they expect. The promised PFAS filter system is supposed to be finished in late 2019, three years after contamination was discovered.
The Navy admits that PFASs will be reduced, but not eliminated. How much of which PFASs people will still be drinking is the question neither party to the memorandum of understanding will answer.
State-of-the-art filtration systems can drop PFASs levels to single digit parts per trillion. However, the town and Navy’s agreement doesn’t call for one, or for removal of PFASs to the greatest extent possible. Neither does it call for post-filter monitoring and reporting that will reveal the amounts of all PFASs that will remain. At least seven have been found in Coupeville’s water.
The agreement says nothing about the PFHXS and PFHPA in the water. It only calls for reducing PFOA/PFOS to an amount below 70 parts per trillion. This leaves wiggle room for PFASs to remain at levels above the Agency For Toxic Substances And Disease Registry’s proposed Minimum Risk Levels.
The filter is supposed to have “adaptive alternatives” to address “future applicable federal or state drinking water regulations.”
This wording allows PFASs to remain that are not regulated or likely to be regulated in the near future.
The Navy and Coupeville have a history of using detection limits that allowed for some PFASs to go undetected and unreported. Neither will identify the detection limits to be used in the post-filter sampling. This benefits people most concerned about public image and tourist dollars, not those who want to know what’s in their drinking water.
For reasons not yet explained, the decision was made against relocating the town’s main supply well to an uncontaminated area. Doing so might have cost the Navy more money, but it would have assured PFAS-free drinking water.
The terms of the agreement will expire in 10 years, or “whenever the Navy determines the response action is no longer needed.” This kind of wording can leave people drinking PFAS contaminated water and stick taxpayers with costs the Navy should pay. The MOU can and should be altered by mutual agreement