Sound Off: Opportunists quick to blame Navy for water contamination


Rick Abraham makes some interesting comments in his editorial “Water contamination sources extend beyond fire department.”

Health concerns about Poly Fluorinated Alkyl Substances (PFAS) have zoomed into public awareness recently as indications of potential long term harm are deemed possible. It happened when firefighting foam used in aircraft/airport crashes were found to contain fluorinated compounds and PFAS.

Alarm bells rang when Poly Fluorinated Alkyl Substances were detected in groundwater samples near airports where the firefighting foam had been used either for fire suppression or fire training. Simple logic required investigating all airports where fluorinated firefighting foam had been used … our Outlying Field included.

As they should, and being sensitive to the sound of alarm bells, government health agencies jumped into action to learn what can be known about these miniscule fluorinated elements now finding their way into our drinking water, and into our bodies. But there was very little health data available, so abundance-of-caution studies were requested.

Under pressure from the sound of alarm bells rather than indications of need from health authorities, deep studies were begun. So far, information filtering out in public forums sounds like speculations based on the inability of our immune systems to remove miniscule fluorinated compounds from our bodies, rather than positive evidence of significant detrimental effects.

But how extreme should the infinitely endless abundance of caution principle be stretched? Opportunists anxious to blame government for every problem they can imagine (and exact $ compensation) stretch it for all they can get away with.

Why not? Government has the deepest pockets, is most vulnerable, has the least guarded treasury, and jury selection rules assure that people with knowledge are excluded.

Rick Abraham seems to go all the way around the mulberry bush, and then some, to assign blame to our Navy.

But let’s get real. Common knowledge is that fluorinated compounds have become ubiquitous ever since Dupont introduced Teflon to modern civilization way back in 1946. That’s nearly a century.

OK, we’ve discovered a possible backside to fluorinated compounds. So we’ve been warned! But what sort of exaggerated logic turns a well-meant life-saving use into a demon that deserves blame for everything known to mankind?

Are they the demon they are being made out to be? How dangerous are “parts per billion” in this earth’s rascal environment? Like fear of the dark, sensitive people can imagine demons behind every tree. Worse are those who want to profit from fear mongering.

Beside being the best and quickest gasoline fire extinguisher, fluorinated compounds are in wrinkle-free clothing, rainwear, stain-free carpets, cookware, plastics, fast food containers and wraps including disposable drinking cups and dinnerware. Heck, it’s everywhere and has been for a long time.

So what’s next, sue McDonald’s and Burger King? How about your mom who fed you with plastic baby bottles or cooked your family food in Teflon-coated cookware?

My gosh! Even dentists paint our teeth with the stuff to make them tough. Medicines we take to solve problems often have detrimental effects for some people. Should medicines be banned and blamed?

Sure, our island aquifer needs to be protected as best we can. After all, the 2005 Island County Water Resources Management Plan made it plain that 72% of us depend on it for our our home and business’s water.

Ever take a walk in our woods and see what common people have dumped out of sight behind trees and brush? Do you think that farmers and youthful car owners have always recycled used oil and antifreeze? Ever wonder where septic effluent goes? The 72% of us who depend on well water also have septic systems.

It’s been said that a government of, by, and for the people, isn’t likely to be a damned bit better than the people. Maybe it’s time to look in the mirror and think about what we’re doing instead of blaming government for every problem.

Yes, our Navy has done things that nearly every one else does. Sure, they can and should do better … and they have. But for some people there never is enough as long as they can find someone else to point their finger at.

Al Williams is an Oak Harbor resident.