The Navy is requesting permission to sample drinking water obtained from drinking water wells within a sampling area near St. Juliens Creek Annex to test for certain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, commonly known as PFAS.
Property owners who drink water from a well on a property located within the sampling area may request sampling by emailing NNSY_PAO@us.navy.mil, or by calling 844-844-SJCA (844-844-7522) to schedule a sampling appointment.
If your drinking water is provided by the City of Chesapeake Public Utilities Department and not from a well, we do not need to sample your drinking water.
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a family of thousands of different chemicals which have been widely used in industrial and consumer products since the 1950s. PFAS are a group of manufactured chemicals that 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. The Navy and Department of Defense (DoD) have developed proactive policies to address past releases of PFAS, including perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS), at installations nationwide.
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 base.
Once these compounds are released, many of them tend to stay in the environment for a very long time. Although the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has started the process to establish regulatory levels for several PFAS in drinking water, there are currently no Safe Drinking Water Act regulatory standards. The EPA has developed drinking water health advisories for a small number of PFAS; these advisories are non-enforceable and non-regulatory. The advisories provide technical information to states and other public health officials on health effects, analytical methodologies, and treatment technologies. For now, the Navy is continuing to follow the policy it issued in June 2016 to conduct investigations at installations where there has been a known or suspected release of PFAS to the environment. The first priority with these investigations is to ensure that PFOA and PFOS concentrations in drinking water wells are not above 70 parts per trillion (ppt), individually or combined, as a result of Navy operations.
DoD, including the Navy, is moving toward complete removal of AFFF at its installations and transitioning to PFAS-free alternatives to AFFF. Until that transition is complete, 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. In response, 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, the 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 Well Sampling at St. Juliens Creek Annex (Figure 1)
PFOA and PFOS have been detected in groundwater at St. Juliens Creek Annex 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 whose property is within the sampling area and whose drinking water is supplied by groundwater.
Figure 1: Location Map of St. Juliens Creek Annex
At this time, the Navy is only asking to sample drinking water wells located in the sampling area (Figure 2). Records indicate that some properties within the sampling area (Figure 2) are provided drinking water by the City of Chesapeake Public Utilities Department. If your drinking water is provided by a public water system, the Navy does not need to sample your drinking water. Property owners and tenants should contact the City of Chesapeake Public Utilities Department with any questions regarding treatment and testing of publicly-provided drinking water. For additional information about drinking water provided by the City of Chesapeake, please visit the City of Chesapeake Public Utilities website at: https://www.cityofchesapeake.net/water.
Figure 2: Proposed Sampling Area
Actions Based on Off-Base Drinking Water Well Sampling Results
The preliminary results from the off-base drinking water well sampling near St. Juliens Creek Annex are expected approximately 30 days after collecting the samples. The Navy provides notification to the property owners and tenants of their drinking water well results and any follow-up actions, if needed. 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 for drinking and cooking until a long-term solution is implemented.
Identification of PFAS Releases at St. Juliens Creek Annex
In 2021, a Preliminary Assessment (PA) for PFAS was completed at St. Juliens Creek Annex. The PA identified a total of eight potential PFAS release areas (grouped geographically into five areas, shown on Figure 3. The areas are described as follows:
Site 5 – Burning Grounds Group (which includes the potential fire training area)
Site 15 – Fire Training Area Group (which includes Site 15 and Building 271)
Site 21 – Industrial Area Group (which includes Site 21, Building 104, and Site 9 [Building 249])
Regional Fire Training Academy Group
The PA Report was finalized in March 2021 and can be found here: https://go.usa.gov/xSvtf.
From February 2022 to July 2022, sample collection and analysis of groundwater and soil was completed at these areas in support of the PFAS Site Inspection (SI). During the SI, PFOA and/or PFOS were detected in shallow groundwater above 70 ppt at each of these areas and additional information about groundwater flow was obtained. As a result, the Navy established a sampling area 1 mile from the detections of PFOA and/or PFOS above 70 ppt in the direction that groundwater flows away from the base. Based on the new information about the direction of groundwater flow, the proposed sampling area only includes properties within the City of Chesapeake and not within the City of Portsmouth. The Navy will continue on-base PFAS investigations and evaluate if actions are needed on base.
The Site Inspection Report is expected to be finalized in December 2023 and will be found here: https://go.usa.gov/xSvtf.
Figure 3: Areas Investigated During the PFAS SI
St. Juliens Creek Annex Drinking Water Well Sampling Documents