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NAVAL AIR STATION PENSACOLA - CORRY STATION

Environmental Restoration Program Public Website

In January and February 2022, the Navy collected samples from 12 drinking water wells near Corry Station for certain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, commonly known as PFAS. All of the results were below the U.S. EPA Lifetime Drinking Water Health Advisory level for two specific PFAS, perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). This website provides background on PFAS and a summary of the Corry Station PFAS in Drinking Water Investigation.

If you have any questions, please contact the NAS Pensacola Community Planning and Liaison Officer at 850-452-8715.

Corry Station

Corry Station is located in northwestern Florida, within Escambia County, approximately 2 miles north of Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola (Figure 1). The facility covers 604.2 acres, with training facilities occupying the largest portion, 431.5 acres or 71 percent. The Naval Hospital (42.5 acres), Family Housing (88.5 acres), and Navy Shopping Mall (41.7 acres) occupy the remainder of the area.

Figure 1: Location Map of Corry Station

Location Map of Corry Station

Areas for PFAS Drinking Water Well Sampling

In 2019 and 2022, the Navy requested permission to sample drinking water wells within sampling areas near Corry Station for certain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, commonly known as PFAS. PFAS are a family of thousands of different chemicals that have been widely used in industrial and consumer products since the 1950s. The Navy developed a proactive policy to address past releases of PFAS at installations nationwide, as several PFAS are now of emerging public health concern. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a drinking water lifetime health advisory for two commonly used and studied PFAS, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS).

The most common Navy activity that could have resulted in the historical release of PFOA, PFOS, and other PFAS to the environment is the use of firefighting foam (specifically certain types of aqueous film-forming foam or AFFF) for testing, training, firefighting, and other life-saving emergency responses.

The EPA’s health advisories provide information on chemicals that can cause human health effects and may be present in drinking water. EPA's health advisories are non-enforceable and non-regulatory and provide technical information to state agencies and other public health officials on health effects, analytical methodologies, and treatment technologies associated with drinking water contamination. The EPA lifetime health advisory level is 70 parts per trillion (ppt) in drinking water for the combined value of PFOA and PFOS.

2019 Off-Base Drinking Water Investigation

In 2018, following the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) process, the Navy initiated a Preliminary Assessment (PA) to identify areas on Corry Station where PFAS may have been released to the environment. The PA identified the Current Fire Station and the Former Fire Department AFFF Storage Area (Figure 2) as areas where PFAS may have been released, and groundwater samples were collected on-base in December 2018 to determine if a release had occurred. PFOA, PFOS and other PFAS were detected in the groundwater samples. PFOA and PFOS were detected at concentrations greater than the EPA drinking water lifetime health advisory. Based on those results, the Navy initiated an off-base investigation of drinking water wells in a sampling area northeast, east, and southeast of Corry Station in February 2019. The 2019 sampling area, as shown in Figure 2, was identified based on the general groundwater flow direction from the Current Fire Station and the Former Fire Department AFFF Storage Area. The Navy conducted extensive public outreach, which included sending letters to property owners in the sampling area, placing notices in local newspapers, and conducting an in-person Open House. The Navy did not receive any requests to sample drinking water wells in the 2019 sampling area; therefore, no drinking water samples from off-base wells were collected.

Figure 2: 2019 Sampling Area

2019 Sampling Area

2022 Off-Base Drinking Water Investigation

Since 2019, the Navy has continued to investigate on-base groundwater and soil for PFAS at Corry Station. Three additional potential PFAS release areas were identified: the Current Auto Hobby Shop, the Former Fire Truck Staging Area/Current Helipad, and Detention Pond No. 1. The Navy conducted sampling at these new on-base areas in July/August 2019 to provide additional supportive data for determining groundwater flow direction and PFAS concentrations at the three potential PFAS release areas. Based on additional on-base groundwater data, a new sampling area was established, which included all properties within 1 mile of Corry Station (Figure 3). In 2022, the Navy again conducted extensive public outreach, which included sending letters and postcards to property owners in the sampling area, issuing press releases to introduce the sampling program, and conducting a Virtual Open House.

Figure 3: 2022 Sampling Area

2022 Sampling Area

In January and February 2022, the Navy requested permission to sample drinking water from wells within the new sampling area near Corry Station (Figure 3). The table below provides a summary of the off-base drinking water well investigation.

Corry Station Off-Base Drinking Water Well Investigation Summary as of March 31, 2022
Number of Wells Sampled PFOA and/or PFOS Detected PFOA and/or PFOS Below EPA Lifetime Health Advisory PFOA and/or PFOS Above EPA Lifetime Health Advisory
12 12 12 0

Corry Station Actions Based on Results

The Navy does its best to keep the results of individual properties confidential to the extent permitted by law. Upon receipt, the Navy called each property owner to share the preliminary results for their drinking water well. Once the preliminary laboratory results were validated, the property owners received a full data packet of their results in the mail.

No additional actions are needed at this time for off-base drinking water wells near Corry Station as all of the results were below the EPA drinking water lifetime health advisory. The Navy will continue with the on-base PFAS Investigation for Corry Station.

CORRY STATION ON-BASE DRINKING WATER SAMPLING RESULTS SUMMARY

The Navy operates 10 water production wells on Corry Station that provide drinking water for Corry Station and NAS Pensacola. Water from these 10 wells is blended and treated for distribution. Treatment includes filtration by granulated activated carbon. In February and August 2015, as part of the EPA’s Third Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR3), samples were collected from a treated water tap and analyzed for the six PFAS, including PFOA and PFOS. The six PFAS were not detected in the samples.

In March 2019, the Navy conducted additional sampling at these 10 on-site production wells. PFOA and PFOS were detected in the treated drinking water samples; however, the combined PFOA and PFOS concentrations at each well were less than the EPA drinking water lifetime health advisory.

The Navy continued quarterly sampling of the completely treated drinking water for the remainder of 2019 and in January 2020. Quarterly sampling of the completely treated drinking water also was conducted in 2021. For each sampling event, PFOA and/or PFOS were detected; however, the combined PFOA and PFOS concentrations were less than the EPA drinking water lifetime health advisory.

BACKGROUND

Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances

PFAS are chemicals used in many consumer products to prevent stains, and to repel water, oil, and grease. Commercial and consumer products containing these compounds were first introduced in the 1950s. They were used in a variety of products such as for the treatment of upholstered furniture fabric and carpets, in nonstick cookware, floor wax, the lining of food containers/packaging and firefighting foam. PFAS are now present virtually everywhere in the world because of the large amounts that have been manufactured and used by international consumers and industry. Once these compounds are released to the environment, they break down very slowly.

PFAS are chemicals of emerging concern, which have no Safe Drinking Water Act regulatory standards or routine water quality testing requirements. The EPA is currently studying PFAS to determine if national regulation is needed. Studies by the EPA, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), and others indicate that exposure to PFAS may cause elevated serum cholesterol levels and developmental effects to fetuses during pregnancy (e.g., low birth weight, accelerated puberty, skeletal variations) or to breastfed infants.

The Department of the Navy (DON) Use of PFAS

While PFAS have been used in a variety of products and substances world-wide, the most common historical use by DON has been in firefighting foam (specifically aqueous film-forming foam or AFFF) used for testing, training, firefighting, and life-saving emergency responses. The DON is working on identifying formulations for firefighting foam that do not contain PFOA and PFOS, but will still maintain critical fire-suppression and life-saving properties. In the short term, the DON intends to use AFFF with the lowest possible concentrations of PFOA and PFOS.

Since AFFF containing PFOA and PFOS is still in use, the DON has taken steps to prevent or to minimize additional release of firefighting foam to the environment; please refer to DON and DoD policies below.

The Department of the Navy (DON) Use of PFAS

PFAS Groundwater Sampling (December 2018)

Groundwater samples were collected in December 2018 in the vicinity of the Current Fire Station and the Former Fire Department AFFF Storage Area to determine whether AFFF and other PFAS-containing materials were released. The results of the December 2018 PFAS groundwater sampling indicated PFOA and PFOS exceeded the EPA drinking water lifetime health advisory of 70 ppt for each individual compound and also for the sum of PFOA and PFOS.

PFAS Sampling of Existing Monitoring Wells (July/August 2019)

Based on the findings of the initial on-site sampling for PFAS conducted in 2018, the Navy conducted sampling of perimeter monitoring wells in July/August 2019. The sampling was conducted to provide additional supportive data for determining groundwater flow directions and PFAS concentrations at three potential PFAS release areas, including the Current Fire Station, the Former Fire Department AFFF Storage Area, and the Current Auto Hobby Shop. The results of the July/August 2019 on-site sampling indicated PFOS concentrations exceeded the EPA drinking water lifetime health advisory of 70 ppt.

Preliminary Assessment and Site Inspection

The PA for Corry Station was completed in 2019 and identified the following nine locations where PFAS-related operations, use, or storage potentially occurred and additional investigation was warranted to determine if a release occurred:

  • Current Fire Station;
  • Former Fire Department AFFF Storage Area;
  • Current Auto Hobby Shop;
  • Former Fire Truck Staging Area/Current Helipad;
  • Two Detention Ponds (Stormwater Discharge Locations); and
  • Three Oil-Water Separators.

A Site Inspection (SI) was started at these nine locations in September through November 2021. Based on the initial sampling results, PFOA and PFOS concentrations were detected in shallow groundwater at five of the nine sites, as listed below:

  • Current Fire Station;
  • Former Fire Department AFFF Storage Area;
  • Current Auto Hobby Shop;
  • Former Fire Truck Staging Area/Current Helipad; and
  • Detention Pond No. 1

The Navy’s priority with PFAS investigations is to identify and eliminate drinking water exposures above the EPA’s drinking water lifetime health advisory. To protect our neighbors, the Navy conducts off-base private drinking water well investigations where a potential PFAS release may have occurred and off-base private drinking water wells have been identified within 1 mile in the direction of groundwater flow. Because the groundwater flow in the area near Corry Station is not yet well understood, the Navy decided to take a protective approach and request to sample all drinking water wells within 1 mile of the Corry Station boundary. The 2022 sampling area is shown on Figure 3.

PFAS Regulatory History

PFOA Stewardship Program

In 2006, EPA initiated the 2010/2015 PFOA Stewardship Program in which eight major companies in the United States committed to reduce facility emissions and product contents of PFOA and related chemicals on a global basis by 95% no later than 2010, and to work toward eliminating emissions and product content of these chemicals by 2015. All U.S. companies have met the program goals. To meet the program goals, most companies stopped the manufacture and import of long-chained PFAS (such as PFOA and PFOS) and then transitioned to alternative chemicals. On January 21, 2015, EPA proposed a Significant New Use Rule under the Toxics Substances Control Act to require manufacturers (including importers) of PFOA- and PFOS-related chemicals to notify EPA at least 90 days before starting or resuming new uses of these chemicals in any process.

Toxic Substances Control Act

On January 21, 2015, EPA proposed a Significant New Use Rule (SNUR) under the Toxics Substances Control Act to require manufacturers (including importers) of PFOA- and PFOS-related chemicals to notify EPA at least 90 days before starting or resuming new uses of these chemicals in any process. The effective date of the final SNUR was September 25, 2020. On June 3, 2021, EPA published a final rule (effective January 1, 2021) to incorporate three additional PFAS into the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI). On June 10, 2021, EPA withdrew some SNUR guidance and issued a proposed rule for new reporting requirements for manufacturers of PFAS.

Safe Drinking Water Act

The Safe Drinking Water Act authorizes the EPA to set national health-based standards for drinking water to protect against both naturally-occurring and man-made chemicals that may be found in drinking water.

Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR)

The EPA uses the Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR) program to collect data for chemicals suspected to be in the nation’s drinking water, but that do not have health-based standards set under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). Every 5 years, EPA develops a new list of chemicals that will be monitored by the nation’s large public water systems (PWSs) serving more than 10,000 people and 800 representative small PWSs (i.e., serving 10,000 or fewer people).

The Third Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR3) was issued in May 2012, and the sampling was completed in 2015. Six PFAS compounds were included in the UCMR3 contaminant list, including PFOA and PFOS. The UCMR3 results found these two chemicals were present in fewer than 1% of the nearly 5,000 public water systems that were sampled.

In December 2016, the EPA issued the Fourth Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR4). No PFAS were included on the UCMR4 list of contaminants that require analysis.

The Fifth Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR5) went into effect on January 26, 2022 (86 FR 73131). UCMR5 requires all PWSs serving more than 3,300 and a representative sample of 800 systems serving 3,300 or fewer people to sample for 30 chemicals (29 PFAS and lithium) between 2023 and 2025.

EPA Lifetime Health Advisories

In May 2016, the EPA Office of Water issued a drinking water lifetime Health Advisory for PFOA and 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 to PFOA and PFOS in drinking water. The lifetime Health Advisory is 70 parts per trillion (ppt) for PFOA and 70 ppt for PFOS. When both PFOA and PFOS are found in drinking water, the combined concentrations of PFOA and PFOS should be compared with the 70 ppt lifetime Health Advisory level.

Navy Policy

Department of the Navy, Office of the Assistant Secretary (Environment) [DASN (E)] Policy Memo, 21 Oct 2014

The Navy issued a policy requiring sampling of on-base drinking water systems for PFOA and PFOS for bases where groundwater was used as drinking water and PFAS could have been released nearby in the past. This included installations that were not required to sample finished drinking water under UCMR3, that produce drinking water from on-installation groundwater sources, and have an identified or suspected PFAS release within approximately 1-mile upgradient of the drinking water source. Installations meeting these criteria were required to sample their finished drinking water by December 2015.

Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Policy Memo, 14 Sept 2015

Similar to the October 2014 DASN (E) policy memo, this memo related to testing on-base drinking water. However, this memo also specified that if levels of PFOA and/or PFOS in drinking water exceeded the current at the time EPA lifetime Health Advisory (that is the 2009 provisional short-term health advisories), then alternative drinking water must be supplied until the PFOA and/or PFOS levels were reduced to below the lifetime Health Advisory.

DASN (E) Policy Memo, 14 Jun 2016

This policy expanded the sampling of PFOA and PFOS at all DON installations where such sampling was not previously completed under EPA’s UCMR3 or the DON’s October 2014 policy. This memo also specified that for instances where drinking water from an installation is purchased from a public water system, but wasn't tested under UCMR3, that the installation must sample the finished drinking water to comply with this policy. Additionally, this policy included reporting requirements to the DASN (E) office for all PFOA and/or PFOS in drinking water results.

DASN (E) Policy Memo, 17 June 2016

This policy defines the DON’s intention to remove, dispose, and replace legacy AFFF that contains PFOA and/or PFOS once environmentally suitable substitutes are identified and certified to meet MILSPEC requirements. This policy directs the following actions be taken until suitable replacements are certified:

  • Immediately cease the uncontrolled environmental release of AFFF for shoreside installations, with the exception of emergency responses.
  • Update and implement Navy and Marine Corps firefighting system requirements, as needed, to ensure fire and emergency service vehicles and equipment at DON installations and facilities are tested and certified in a manner that does not allow the release of AFFF to the environment.
  • By the end of Fiscal Year 2017 (FY17), remove and dispose of uninstalled PFOS-containing AFFF in drums and cans from local stored supplies for shore installations and ships to prevent future environmental releases.

DASN (E) Policy Memo, 20 Jun 2016

This policy required the Navy to identify and prioritize sites for investigation if drinking water resources, on- or off-installation, are thought to be vulnerable to PFAS effects from past Navy and Marine Corps PFAS releases. Sites with drinking water sources within 1-mile downgradient from known or potential releases of PFAS were assigned the highest priority. This policy directed the sampling of off-base drinking water at these high priority (Priority 1) sites within FY17.

The primary mechanism to identify potential PFAS release sites and areas of concern (AOC), was review of Environmental Restoration, Navy (ER,N) records. To ensure that all potential PFAS release mechanisms were identified, installations were directed to review installations to identify areas that are not already part of the ER,N program. The Navy has completed the sampling for all off-base potentially impacted drinking water sources that were identified as a result of this policy, and currently known exposures have been addressed.

Department of Defense (DoD) Policy

Secretary of Defense Memo, 23 July 2019

This memo established a PFAS task force to ensure a coordinated, aggressive, and holistic approach to DoD-wide efforts to proactively address PFAS.  The goals of the task force are mitigating and eliminating the use of the current AFFF, understanding the impacts of PFAS on human health, and fulfilling cleanup responsibility related to PFAS.  The task force is coordinating and collaborating with other federal agencies to achieve these goals.

ASD Memo, 23 October 2019

This memo revised quarterly progress reporting requirements for installations with known or suspected PFAS releases.

ASD Guidance Memo, 22 November 2019

This memo established requirements for installation commanders to conduct community engagement with respect to PFAS issues, to report on their progress in so doing, and to provide feedback on community questions and concerns.

ASD Guidance Memo, 22 November 2019

This memo established a consistent methodology for analysis of PFAS in media other than drinking water and requires DoD Components to use analytical methods meeting the DoD/DOE Quality Systems Manual for Environmental Laboratories, Appendix B, Table B-15.

ASD Memo, 13 January 2020

This memo established annual reporting requirements for AFFF usage or spills at all DoD installations.

ASD Policy Memo, 2 March 2020

This memo identifies requirements for PFAS drinking water sampling on DoD installations where DoD is the drinking water purveyor.  The requirements include initial and routine monitoring, actions necessary if results exceed the lifetime Health Advisory, laboratory analysis and record keeping requirements, and notification of results.

ASD Guidance Memo, 15 September 2021

This guidance memo provides direction on use of toxicity values for PFOA, PFOS, and PFBS that can be used to estimate screening levels used in the CERCLA program to determine if further investigation is warranted or if a site can proceed to site closeout. It specifically updates the recommended toxicity value for PFBS that was revised by EPA in April 2021, and associated screening levels for PFBS.

ASD Guidance Memo, 7 December 2021

This guidance memo updates the 22 November 2019 guidance memo by requiring the use of EPA’s Draft Method 1633 “Analysis of PFAS in Aqueous, Solid, Biosolids, and Tissue Samples by LC-MS/MS” for analysis of PFAS in matrices other than drinking water for all new contracts and task orders issued after December 31, 2021. Existing projects are encouraged to use this method when ELAP-accredited laboratories become available.

ASD Guidance Memo, 22 December 2021

This memo provides clarifying guidance on what triggers the need for removal actions under CERCLA and how DoD should address properly promulgated State PFAS drinking water standards as part of a CERCLA removal action.

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