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Post: DoD to Expand Investigation, Cleanup of ‘Forever Chemicals’ in Response to New EPA Standards

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DoD to Expand Investigation, Cleanup of 'Forever Chemicals' in Response to New EPA Standards

Sailors assigned to Nimitz-class nuclear aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) sweep the flight deck during testing of the ship’s aqueous film forming foam distribution system. (Tyler Wheaton/U.S. Navy) The Department of Defense will expand its investigation into the prevalence of "forever chemicals" in base drinking water systems and neighboring water supplies following the Environmental Protection Agency’s publication of stricter standards for the synthetic substances.

The EPA announced Wednesday new national limits for six types of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, in drinking water supplies. Many of these chemicals have been used extensively on military installations in firefighting foams, industrial solvents, non-stick coatings and other products, causing widespread contamination of groundwater, soil and adjacent communities.

Since 2016, the Defense Department has conducted assessments or investigated the use of PFAS and related contamination at 715 active and former military installations, National Guard facilities and other closed defense sites.

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As of December, the DoD had completed assessments of 707 installations, finding that 574 needed to proceed to the next step of the cleanup process, while no further action was required at 133 installations.

The stricter standards may mean, however, that some sites considered to need no or limited remediation may require more attention.

The Defense Department has used firefighting foams containing certain types of PFAS chemicals for more than 50 years. Many DoD sites determined to be contaminated have high levels of perfluorooctane sulfonate, or PFOS, and perfluorooctanoic acid, […]

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