PFAS Drinking Water Well Sampling
New Update as of 20 April 2021
The Navy’s field team is continuing to investigate the potential on-facility releases of perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) at the Grumman/Calverton Facility identified in the Preliminary Assessment.
The Navy is aware of community concerns about private drinking water wells located south of the former NWIRP and has been working with Suffolk County Department of Health Services (SCDHS) to obtain drinking water data. The Navy has received results for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and a limited data set for metals and volatile organic compounds (VOC) for samples collected prior to January 2021. As more fully explained below, a careful review of the SCDHS data, in conjunction with other available PFAS and groundwater flow data, indicates that the private drinking water wells sampled by SCDHS have not been impacted by a Navy PFAS release.
As seen with the blue arrows in Figure 1 below, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has studied the groundwater flow in Calverton and has determined the direction to be generally southeast toward the Peconic River for properties in the SCDHS sampling areas 1, 2, and 3. The Navy’s groundwater investigation has also confirmed this groundwater flow direction. The Peconic River acts as a groundwater divide, preventing groundwater flow across the river. As a result, the groundwater flow direction around the two other SCDHS sampling areas (4 and 5) is different, with a general flow direction to the northeast which is also shown with blue arrows on the map below.
None of the former or current Navy property in Calverton is located upgradient of SCDHS sampling areas 4 and 5. The groundwater in these sampling areas actually flows toward Navy property so there are no known or potential Navy PFAS release areas that could have resulted in PFOS/PFOA in the drinking water wells sampled by SCDHS. The Navy’s former property south of the Western Runway is located upgradient of SCDHS sampling areas 1, 2, and 3. The Navy’s investigation to date has not identified a PFAS release in this area. To be proactive, the Navy collected groundwater samples along Swan Pond Road to confirm that a release has not occurred, which could have the potential to impact drinking water wells.
The Navy’s groundwater data along Swan Road and the SCDHS drinking water well sampling data are also shown above on Figure 1. The SCDHS data for drinking water wells is summarized by comparing the results to two values. The United States (U.S) Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has established a lifetime health advisory of 70 parts per trillion (ppt) for PFOA and PFOS combined in drinking water. New York has a more stringent standard of 10 ppt each for PFOS and PFOA in drinking water. All of the groundwater results along Swan Pond Road south of the Western Runway were below 10 ppt for PFOA and PFOS which further supports the Navy’s conclusion that a release has not occurred from Navy property in this area.
Two additional figures are provided below which present the Navy’s full findings from the ongoing PFAS investigations conducted in the southern portion of the former NWIRP. Figure 2 provides PFOS data collected by the Navy and Figure 3 presents the PFOA data. These figures also summarize the results of PFOA and PFOS in drinking water samples provided by SCDHS.
Figure 2 Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS)
Please click here to download the figure.
Figure 3 Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA)
Please click here to download the figure.
Results of Drinking Water Well Sampling (2018 to 2020)
In September 2018, the Navy requested permission to sample drinking water within a designated area near the former Grumman/Calverton property. Originally 53 parcels were identified as potentially having a private well. 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.
The Navy 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 Health Advisory limit of 70 ppt combined. Of the 14 samples collected, 10 of the sample results were non-detect for PFOS/PFOA and the four remaining sample results ranged between 4.61 to 16.83 ppt for PFOS/PFOA combined. The private drinking water well owners were notified of their individual results by phone and mail.
In September 2019, the Navy retested the 14 private drinking water wells to further validate the original results and conclusions. Again, none of the 14 samples collected detected PFOS/PFOA above the EPA’s Health Advisory limit of 70 ppt. The sample results ranged between non-detect to 7.31 ppt for PFOS/PFOA. The private drinking water well owners were notified of their individual results by phone and mail.
In November 2020, the Navy tested a private drinking water well south of Swan Pond because the Site 2 study area had expanded near this location. The results for PFOA and PFOS were also below the EPA’s Health Advisory limit of 70 ppt. The private drinking water well owner was notified of the results by phone and mail.
|NWIRP Calverton Off-Facility Drinking Water Sampling Status|
|Date||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 Health Advisory||Validated Results Received above the Health Advisory|
*Originally 53 parcels were identified as potentially having a private well.
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 health advisory (HA). Since no well exceeded the HA, 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.
Navy policy is to provide alternate drinking water to any potable water wells impacted by Navy releases of PFOS/PFOA when those drinking water wells contain concentrations above the EPA HA. New York has proposed a more stringent standard for PFOS/PFOA. For more information on New York’s proposals, click here to go to New York’s Department of Health website.
In April 2019, the Navy started investigating the potential PFAS areas of concerns on the Grumman Facility. Investigations at the Site 2 – Former Fire Training Area and the Aircraft Paint Hangars continued in 2019 as well. Investigations began at Site 2 and the Aircraft Paint Hangars before the other areas of concern 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 is investigating 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.
The Navy is conducting investigations on the areas identified in the PA as “Further PFAS Assessment Recommended” in order to evaluate whether these contaminants are in media (i.e., soil or groundwater).
2019 Field Activities
Drilling activities have been completed for 2019. Results from 2019 were presented during the Restoration Advisory Board (RAB) meeting held at the Manorville Fire Department on January 29, 2020. The Navy is preparing a Site Inspection (SI) report to document the findings.
2020 Spring Sampling
In April 2020 piezometers throughout the facility were sampled by the Navy, click here to view the work plan: Spring 2020 Facility Wide Sampling Work Plan. The results of the spring sampling event will be included in the supplemental SI report that will be issued in 2021.
2020 Work Plans
Work plans for a supplemental SI for the Facility and a Remedial Investigation at Site 2 have been prepared by the Navy. These work plans have not yet been placed at the Public Repository at the Riverhead library due to COVID-19. You can however access them here by clicking on the following links:
- 2020 Site 2 PFAS RI Work Plan
- 2020 Supplemental SI Facility Wide Work Plan
- Area of Concern 13, F-14 Crash
In 2019, the Site Investigation began at 12 Areas of Concern (AOCs) and continued at Site 2 – Former Fire Training Area. Each of these AOCs may have been impacted by PFAS through the discharge of aqueous film-forming foams (AFFF) stored in fire suppression systems, activities associated with training, or responses to aircraft crashes at the facility. Site 2 was impacted during activities associated with training. For the 2020 investigations, AOCs have been consolidated into areas based on the proximity and given Area Names as presented in the table and figure below:
2021 Field Activities
Week of April 19, 2021
For the week of April 19, the Navy’s field team sampled piezometers located throughout the facility and conducted drilling activities at AOC-11 and AOC-14. Drilling activities included the collection of macrocores and groundwater samples from soil borings.
At the end of each field day, samples are secured and logged onto a chain of custody. At the end of the week, samples are shipped to the laboratory for analysis. Once the samples are received, the laboratory has 21 days to analyze the samples. The samples are then sent to a quality control person (aka validator) to ensure there are no errors with the data. The validator has 30 days to review the data package. Tables and figures are then developed for the presentation of data. The data is sent to the Navy team for review. A report is generated and provide to the various regulators and Restoration Advisory Board.
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 2). 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 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 requested 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 3) 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. PFOS and PFOA were not detected in these samples; therefore, sampling of properties receiving water supplied by the Riverhead Water District is not necessary.
The drinking water investigation focused on areas with the potential for off-property migration of PFAS to groundwater used as drinking water from private wells. The Navy has identified 19 private drinking water wells within the designated area, which is the initial off-property residential well sampling area, as shown on Figure 3. 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. In 2020, drinking water samples will be collected from the residential well south of Swan Pond and three residential wells that are in proximity to the drainage pathway from Swan Pond and the Peconic River. 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 U.S. EPA’s 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 PFOA and 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 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