NAPLES, Italy – Naval Support Activity Naples Commanding Officer Capt. Scott Gray hosted a town hall meeting to address the public health evaluation and recent environmental concerns from service members and their families, Nov. 21.
The public health evaluation was conducted by the Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center (NMCPHC) from 2008 to 2011 to assess the potential health risks for U.S. personnel living in the Naples area.
“This was a voluntary study, the only comprehensive study done by anyone and the Navy did it,” said Gray. “For all that has been analyzed and the protection we have put in place, the risk in Campania is not a greater risk than that of the U.S.”
Based off of the results from the initial phase of the evaluation in 2009, the houses or zones that had elevated risks such as contaminated wells, soil gas … or both, were given the opportunity to relocate at the government’s expense and the new leased suspension zones were put in place. Service members and their families are no longer able to rent in those zones.
The study included samples from the tap water, irrigation water, soil, soil gas and air quality. NMCPHC also conducted studies focusing on birth defects, cancer, asthma and food. The food study concentrated on the fruits and vegetables grown in the Naples region and sold at the commissary on base.
Gray emphasized that he purchases produce at the commissary and at local Italian supermarkets.
“What you do is based on your comfort factor. What level of risk do you want to assume? I buy from the commissary and from places like Auchan and Ipercoop,” said Gray. “Buy your food from the commissary; you will be as safe as you can be. The commissary labels anything that is grown in Italy and everything sold there meets FDA standards and quality control.”
The study concluded that of the babies born overseas, 900 were exposed in their first trimester to birth defects which is no higher than that of the U.S. Cancer rates and asthma are no higher in the Campania region than that of the U.S.
Bacteria in the tap water (mostly well water), lead and arsenic were some of the findings. The Navy Housing office at Support Site Gricignano has implemented requirements in each members lease for their landlord to provide bottled water or if they have a water holding tank, the landlord should clean it twice a year.
“We have a very extensive environmental department here,” said Gray. “We try to be proactive for the safety of the Navy families, my families.”
The environmental department maintains three water treatment facilities in the Naples area; in Lago Patria, Capodichino and Carney Park. They frequently test the water at each site. Recently, they implemented an active recycling program at Support Site Gricignano and a hazardous material control program.
Gray stated that service members and their families can go to Capodichino’s water treatment facility to fill up water bottles, jugs, etc. to save them money from having to buy water.
“This is not an accelerating issue,” said Gray. “It’s the U.S. Navy that has done the most comprehensive testing and the results of the study helped me with my piece of mind. I would not jeopardize the health and safety of our personnel.”
To get more information on the assessment, visit the NSA Naples website at https://www.cnic.navy.mil/regions/cnreurafswa/installations/nsa_naples/about/health_awareness.html or their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/NSANaples.