The Navy is requesting permission to sample drinking water obtained from drinking water wells near Naval Weapons Station (NWS) Earle
to test for certain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, commonly known as PFAS.
Property owners and tenants who drink water from a well on a property located within the sampling areas may request sampling by calling
833-REQSAMP (833-737-7267) to schedule a sampling appointment. Additional sampling appointments are available from
April 11, 2023 through April 21, 2023.
If your drinking water is provided by New Jersey American Water Company (NJ American) and not from a well, the Navy does not need to sample your drinking water.
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a family of thousands of different chemicals that have been widely used in industrial and consumer products since the 1950s. PFAS are man-made and have been used in many household and industrial products because of their stain- and water-repellent properties. PFAS are now present virtually everywhere in the world. Once these compounds are released, they break down very slowly.
In May 2016, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued lifetime drinking water health advisories of 70 parts per trillion (ppt), individually or combined, for two PFAS, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS). Health advisories are not enforceable, and are not regulatory levels; rather, they are levels that provide Americans, including sensitive populations, with a margin of protection from a lifetime of exposure.
In June 2016, the Department of the Navy developed a proactive policy to ensure the communities near our installations are not exposed to drinking water with PFOA and/or PFOS because of a known or potential Navy release of PFAS-containing materials. The Navy’s first priority is to ensure that concentrations of PFOA or PFOS in drinking water are not above 70 ppt as a result of a Navy PFAS release. The most common activity that could have resulted in the historical release of PFOA, PFOS, and other PFAS to the environment at Navy installations is the use of firefighting foam (specifically, aqueous film-forming foam, or AFFF) for testing, training, firefighting, and other life-saving emergency responses. Because of this historical use, there is potential for PFOA, PFOS, and other PFAS to be in the groundwater on base, and may be present in nearby drinking water wells that are located in the direction that the groundwater flows away from the release areas. Recently, the Navy released a new military specification for a formulation of AFFF that does not contain PFAS. Until products that meet this new military specification are available, the Navy currently uses formulations that contain lower concentrations of PFOA and PFOS than many historical AFFF formulations and has taken steps to prevent or minimize additional release of firefighting foam to the environment.
In January 2023, the Department of Defense (DoD) announced the release of a new military specification for firefighting foam. Until products that meet this new military specification are available, the Navy will continue to use formulations that contain lower concentrations of PFOA and PFOS than many historical AFFF formulations and will continue to take steps to prevent or minimize additional release of firefighting foam to the environment.
On March 14, 2023, the EPA proposed a draft regulatory drinking water standard for certain PFAS, including PFOA and PFOS. DoD has issued the following statement: “DoD respects and values the public comment process on this proposed nationwide drinking water rule and looks forward to the clarity that a final regulatory drinking water standard for PFAS will provide. In anticipation of the final standard that EPA expects to publish by the end of 2023, DoD is assessing what actions DoD can take to be prepared to incorporate EPA’s final regulatory standard into our current cleanup process, such as reviewing our existing data and conducting additional sampling where necessary. In addition, DoD will incorporate nationwide PFAS cleanup guidance, issued by EPA and applicable to all owners and operators under the federal cleanup law, as to when to provide alternate water when PFAS are present.”
Off-Base Drinking Water Sampling at NWS Earle (Figure 1)
PFOA and PFOS have been detected in groundwater at NWS Earle above 70 ppt. When a known or suspected release of PFAS is identified on a Navy installation and groundwater is used as drinking water, a sampling area is established 1 mile in the direction that groundwater flows away from a release area. The Navy offers sampling to all property owners and tenants whose property is within the sampling area and whose drinking water is supplied by groundwater.
Figure 1: Location Map of NWS Earle
PFOA and/or PFOS were detected in groundwater above 70 ppt at two release areas, Site 46 and Building C-63 (Figure 2). As a result, off-base sampling areas have been established 1 mile in the direction that groundwater flows away from these two release areas. The Southwest Sampling Area is located in the direction groundwater flows off-base from Site 46, and the North Sampling Area is located in the direction groundwater flows off-base from Building C-63 (Figure 2). At this time, the Navy is asking to sample only drinking water wells located in the sampling areas. Records indicate that some properties within the sampling areas are provided drinking water by NJ American. NJ American customers should contact NJ American with any questions regarding their drinking water.
Figure 2: 2023 Sampling Areas
Actions Based on Off-Base Drinking Water Sampling Results
Off-base drinking water samples were collected from February 24, 2023 through March 10, 2023, and the Navy planned to provide preliminary results to property owners and tenants 30 days after collecting the samples. However, quality control measures the Navy has in place showed that there was an issue with how some of the samples were handled in the laboratory. To ensure reliable data, the Navy decided to collect new samples from the drinking water wells that were sampled between February 24, 2023 and March 10, 2023 and send them to a different laboratory. The additional sampling will be conducted from April 11, 2023 through April 21, 2023. Any property owner or tenant whose drinking water well was not sampled between February 24, 2023 and March 10, 2023 who would like to have their well tested may call 833-REQSAMP (833-737-7267) to schedule an appointment. Preliminary results from this sampling will be available approximately 60 days after collecting the samples, due to the amount of time that the new lab will require to analyze the samples. We will provide notification to the property owners and tenants of their drinking water results and any follow-up actions, if needed. The Navy will do its best to keep the testing results and property information confidential to the extent permitted by law.
The Navy will provide bottled water for drinking and cooking to any property in the sampling area with a drinking water well that contains PFOA and/or PFOS above 70 ppt and does not have an alternate drinking water source available. The Navy will continue to provide bottled water until a permanent solution is implemented.
2016 Off-base Drinking Water Sampling
The Navy conducted off-base PFAS drinking water well sampling in 2016 because PFOA and/or PFOS were detected above 70 ppt at Site 46; the sampling area is shown on Figure 2.
Table 1 provides the results of the 2016 sampling. Bottled water was provided to two properties with PFOA and/or PFOS results above 70 ppt until they were connected to public water (NJ American) in 2017.
|Table 1. NWS Earle – 2016 Off-Base Drinking Water Results
||Number of Wells Sampled
||Number of wells with no detections of PFOA or PFOS
||Number of wells with detections of PFOA and/or PFOS below 70 ppt
||Number of wells with detections of PFOA and/or PFOS above 70 ppt
Identification of PFAS Releases at NWS Earle
Site 46 was identified as a PFAS release area in 2015, and investigation of groundwater and soil is ongoing. Site 46 is currently in the Remedial Investigation phase.
Basewide Assessment: The basewide Preliminary Assessment (PA) completed in January 2020 at NWS Earle identified the following eight on-base areas, shown on Figure 3, where releases of PFAS may have occurred.
Site 3: Landfill Southwest of “F” Group
Site 4: Landfill West of “D” Group
Site 5: Landfill West of Army Barricades
Site 6: Landfill West of Normandy Road
Historical Fire Training Area (Location of Site 11 – Ordnance Disposal Area)
Site 13: Defense Property Disposal Office Yard Landfill
Building C-63: Hazardous Waste Storage Building
Site 49: Shed S-469 and Wooded Area
All of these areas are on the NWS Earle Mainside Area, except for Site 6, which is on the NWS Earle Waterfront Area.
Figure 3: PFAS Release Areas
In the summer of 2021, sample collection and analysis of groundwater was completed at these areas in support of a Site Inspection (SI). The Navy is currently evaluating what additional investigations are necessary.
NWS Earle Off-Base Drinking Water Sampling Documents