PFAS Drinking Water Well Sampling
New Update as of 22 February 2019
The Navy has received the test results from the sampling described in the background section below. As depicted in the chart, of the 14 voluntary samples collected, none detected PFOS/PFOA above the EPA’s Lifetime Health Advisory limit of 70 nanograms per liter (ng/L). Of the 14 samples collected, 10 of the sample results were non-detect for PFOS/PFOA and the three remaining sample results ranged between 4.61 to 16.83 ng/L for PFOS/PFOA. The private drinking water well owners were notified of their individual results by phone and mail.
|NWIRP Calverton Off-Facility Drinking Water Sampling Status as of Friday February 22, 2019 (no change from November 2, 2018)|
|Initial Parcels Requested for Sampling||Initial Parcels - Subsequently Confirmed with Public Water Supply or Vacant Property||Samples Collected||Preliminary Results Received||Validated Results Received||Preliminary Results Received above the Lifetime Health Advisory||Validated Results Received above the Lifetime Health Advisory|
*Original 53 parcels were identified as potentially having a private well. Based on record searches, door to door and field surveys, and property owner responses to letters confirmed that 34 of these 53 parcels are on public water supply or are vacant properties with no current drinking water use. Of the remaining 19 parcels, 14 were sampled at the request of the owner.
What does this mean?
No evidence of PFOS/PFOA plume emanating from the Grumman Facility at a depth that would affect private drinking water wells.
The Navy responded to detections of elevated concentrations of PFOS/PFOA on the Grumman Facility by testing nearby (within 1 mile down-gradient) private drinking water wells to
- determine whether these wells were impacted by any PFOS/PFOA that exceeded relevant concentration standards; and
- help determine whether further private drinking water well testing was necessary.
The absence of high levels of concentration indicate that PFOA and PFOS have not moved further from the facility at concentrations that would pose a risk to human health.
No Navy provision of alternate sources of drinking water.
Per Navy Policy, the Navy was prepared to provide alternate drinking water for any affected drinking water wells above the lifetime health advisory (LHA). Since no well exceeded the LHA, the Navy will not be providing alternate sources of drinking water.
No need for Navy to expand the range of private drinking water wells for testing.
Had the Navy detected high concentrations of PFAS/PFOA in the nearby drinking water wells, the Navy would have reevaluated the scope of private drinking water wells that it would seek to test. These detections of low (or no) concentrations mean that the Navy will not expand the scope of its private drinking water well sampling footprint.
The Navy plans to retest the 14 private drinking water wells to further validate the results and conclusions. If requested by the property owners, private drinking water wells on the other 5 parcels will also be tested. The Navy anticipates conducting this resampling Fall 2019. More information will be available as Fall approaches.
Respond to any promulgated state standards
Navy policy is to provide alternate drinking water to any drinking water wells impacted by Navy releases of PFOS/PFOA when those drinking water wells contain concentrations above the EPA LHA. The Navy will reevaluate whether to provide alternate drinking water in light of any promulgated state standards. New York has proposed a more stringent standard for PFOS/PFOA. Should New York promulgate a standard, the Navy will reevaluate whether to provide an alternate drinking water source in light of that standard. For more information on New York’s proposals, click here to go to New York’s Department of Health website.
The Navy is preparing to investigate the potential PFAS areas of concerns on the Grumman Facility beginning in Spring 2019. Investigations at the Site 2 – Former Fire Training Area and the Aircraft Paint Hangars will continue in 2019 as well. Investigations have already begun at Site 2 and the Aircraft Paint Hangars because the Navy’s contractor, Northrop Grumman, released aqueous film forming foam (AFFF), which contains PFOS/PFOA. More information about Site 2 and the Aircraft Paint Hangars can be found on the Navy’s ERP Sites Under Investigation page.
Investigations on Grumman Facility
The Navy will continue to investigate the extent of the on-facility release of PFOS/PFOA at the Grumman Facility. This investigation and the necessary remediation is governed by the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). More information about the Navy’s investigative process can be found on the Environmental Restoration Process page.
When a contaminant, such as PFAS, is identified and the use of this contaminant is suspected at a facility, the Navy begins a Preliminary Assessment (PA) to compile existing information about known or potential PFAS releases at the installation and potential migration pathways. The methods for conducting the PFAS PA included four primary activities:
- Document searches,
- Public database searches,
- Interviews with former with personnel familiar with operations, and
- Site reconnaissance.
The Navy has prepared a draft PA and shared it with New York regulators (New York Department of Health and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation). Click here to see that draft. Questions regarding the draft PA can be sent to NAVFAC_ML_PAO@navy.mil. When finalized, the PA will be posted to this page.
Once potential areas of concern are identified, investigations are conducted to evaluate whether these contaminants are in media (i.e., soil or groundwater). If the contaminant is detected at concentrations higher than the applicable standard (such as the U.S. EPA lifetime health advisory), the Navy expands the sampling program to evaluate the extent of contamination.
At NWIRP Calverton, the Navy proactively sampled drinking water within a one-mile boundary before conducting the on property investigation at the area of concern identified in the PA. Access agreements (for property not owned by the Navy) or notices (for properties owned by the Navy) will be secured prior to conducting any investigations. The Navy will review the results and expand the investigations as needed as more information about the contaminant becomes available. Once the extent of contamination has been studied, the Navy will decide the best way to clean up the contaminant. Although this process may take time, it is important to step out in a methodical manner so that each area of concern is thoroughly investigated.
Information about these areas will be presented at the next Restoration Advisory Board (RAB) meeting. The Navy uses the RAB meetings to keep the community informed of activities being conducted at NWIRP Calverton. More information about the RAB can be found on the NWIRP Calverton Community Outreach page. Representatives from the Navy are available at these meetings to answer questions and address community concerns. Representatives from the New York State Department of Environment (NYSDEC) and New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) regularly participate in these meetings as well. More information about NYSDEC and NYSDOH are available online.
In the meantime, general questions regarding this process can be addressed to NAVFAC_ML_PAO@navy.mil.
Former Naval Weapons Industrial Reserve Plant (NWIRP) Calverton
PFAS Drinking Water Well Sampling
The former NWIRP Calverton is located in east-central Suffolk County, Long Island, New York, approximately 50 miles east of New York City (Figure 1). NWIRP Calverton was constructed in the early 1950s and closed in February 1996. The facility was leased and operated by Northrop Grumman Corporation as a Government-owned/Contractor operated facility. Historical activities conducted at NWIRP Calverton primarily consisted of final assembly and flight acceptance testing of military aircraft. The majority of the land within the developed section of NWIRP Calverton was transferred to the Town of Riverhead for economic redevelopment in September 1998, including most of the fenced area. The majority of the runway buffer areas were transferred to New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) for conservation and public recreation, and one additional parcel of buffer land was designated for transfer to the Veterans Administration that manages the adjacent Calverton National Cemetery.
Areas for PFAS Drinking Water Well Sampling
The Navy is requesting permission to sample drinking water obtained from private wells within designated areas near the former NWIRP Calverton, New York. The Navy has developed a protective policy to address past releases of per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, commonly known as PFAS. These substances may be present in the soil and/or groundwater at Navy sites as a result of historical firefighting activities using aqueous film forming foam (AFFF), including response to crashes, equipment testing, and training. If PFAS are in the groundwater, there is the potential for these substances also to be present in private drinking water wells in the designated areas (outlined on Figure 2) because of their proximity to former NWIRP Calverton and groundwater flow direction. Available records indicate that the majority of drinking water in the designated area is supplied by the Riverhead Water District, which has already been tested for PFAS. Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) were not detected in these samples; therefore, sampling of properties receiving water supplied by the Riverhead Water District is not necessary.
This drinking water investigation will focus on areas with the potential for off-property migration of PFAS to groundwater used as drinking water from private wells. The Navy has identified several private drinking water wells within the designated area, which is the initial off-property residential well sampling area, as shown on Figure 2. To ensure protectiveness, the Navy has offered this drinking water sampling to all residents in the sampling area. Letters dated September 13, 2018 were sent to property owners in the designated area requesting permission to sample their private drinking water wells. On September 25, 2018, the Navy, with the support of regulatory agencies, conducted a public Open House Meeting with subject matter experts and an opportunity to sign up for sampling appointments. On October 1, 2018, the Navy sent out second chance postcards that were in English and Spanish, to again request permission to sample private drinking water wells in the designated sampling area. Furthermore, on October 23, 2018, a door to door survey was conducted at the remaining homes within the sample area to determine if the homes were serviced by Riverhead Water District or if the homeowners of private wells would like to have their private well sampled. The Navy wants to ensure that residents are not being exposed to PFAS in their drinking water from facility historical operations at concentrations exceeding the USEPA’s lifetime health advisory level.
Per-and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances
PFAS are manufactured chemicals that have been used since the 1950s in many household and industrial products because of their stain‐ and water‐repellant properties. Within Department of the Navy’s (DON) operations, PFAS are most commonly associated with aqueous film‐forming foam (AFFF) used primarily for firefighting (including response to plane crashes, equipment testing, and/or training, buildings where AFFF was used in the fire suppression system). PFAS can also be contained in some other materials (e.g., certain specialty paints) and wastes. 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, as well as the military. Once these compounds are released to the environment, they break down very slowly. PFAS are considered “emerging” contaminants, which have no Safe Drinking Water Act regulatory standards or routine water quality testing requirements. The U.S Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) is currently studying PFAS to determine if national regulation is needed.
The 1996 Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) amendments require that once every five years USEPA issues a new list of no more than 30 unregulated contaminants to be monitored by public water systems (PWSs). The USEPA issued the third Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR3) in May 2012. Therefore, between 2013 and 2015, all large PWSs serving more than 10,000 people and 800 representative PWSs serving 10,000 or fewer people analyzed drinking water samples for the 30 UCMR 3 compounds, which included six PFAS compounds. In May 2016 the USEPA issued health advisories for two PFAS compounds, specifically perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS). Health advisories are not regulatory standards, but they are health‐based concentrations which offer a margin of protection for all Americans throughout their lives from exposure to PFOS and PFOA in drinking water. The USEPA health advisory level for lifetime exposure is 70 parts per trillion (ppt) for PFOS and 70 ppt for PFOA. When both PFOS and PFOA are found in drinking water, the combined concentrations should not exceed 70 ppt.
The DON Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Energy, Installations and Environment) (ASN (EI&E)) issued a policy in 2014 requiring on-base drinking water sampling for PFOA and PFOS for bases where groundwater was used as drinking water and PFAS could have been released nearby in the past. Under the policy, drinking water sources from on-installation sources were required to sample their finished drinking water by December 2015 if they had not previously been tested under UCMR3 and if an identified or suspected PFAS release was within approximately 1-mile up-gradient to the drinking water source. In June 2016, the DON issued an additional policy that required all DON installations not previously tested under UCMR3 or the 2014 policy to test their finished drinking water regardless of the drinking water source (installation or municipal) and regardless of proximity to a potential/known PFAS release to the environment.
In June 2016, the DON ASN (EI&E) also issued a policy to identify and prioritize sites for investigation if drinking water resources, on- or off-installation, are thought to be vulnerable to PFAS contamination from past known or potential Navy releases of PFAS. Sites with drinking water sources within one-mile downgradient from known or potential releases of PFAS were assigned the highest priority.
NWIRP Calverton Drinking Water Investigation Documents
ATSDR Per- and polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) Frequently Asked Questions
ATSDR Interim Guidance: An Overview of Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances and Interim Guidance for Clinicians Responding to Patient Exposure Concerns
ATSDR Perfluoroalkyls – ToxFAQs
ATSDR ToxGuide for Perfluoroalkyls
Minnesota Department of Health Summary of Results: Perfluorochemicals in Home and Gardens Study
New York Department of Health: In-home Water Filtration Options for Household Drinking Water
USEPA Fact Sheet: PFOA & PFOS Drinking Water Health Advisories