Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick

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Fitzpatrick, Meehan, Boyle Press DoD for Answers After Explosive PFC Report

Jun 9, 2017
Press Release
‘Dangers of firefighting foam discussed in 2001, document shows’

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressmen Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-08), Patrick Meehan (PA-07) and Brendan Boyle (PA-13) are requesting information from the Pentagon after news reports exposed that the dangers posed by firefighting foams used on military bases – including those in Bucks and Montgomery counties – were discussed and considered by industry professionals as early as 2001. The report also notes the existence of a Dept. of Defense letter “describing 3M's PFOS-based products as ‘persistent, bioaccumulating, and toxic’ and referenced ‘a March 16, 2001, meeting at DoD (Department of Defense) to discuss what actions they should take about the foams.” 

In a letter to Defense Sec. James Mattis, Fitzpatrick, Meehan and Boyle are asking for a copy of the 2001 DoD letter and additional information relating to PFCs from that time.

“If these minutes accurately captured the content of the 2001 NFPA meeting, they show that DoD was aware of problems regarding the use of PFC-based firefighting foams long before any effort was made to discontinue their use or protect the public, in places like Horsham, Warminster, and Warrington, from further exposure,” the letter reads in part. “In response to the revelation of this information, we respectfully request a copy of the letter from the Undersecretary of Defense referenced in the minutes, any additional information from 2001 that explains DoD’s understanding of the ‘persistent, bioaccumulating and toxic’ nature of PFCs, and further details regarding the March 16, 2001 meeting at DoD related to PFCs.”

The complete letter text is below. A signed copy can be found HERE

Honorable James Mattis

Secretary

U.S. Department of Defense

1400 Defense Pentagon

Washington, DC 20301-1400

 

Secretary Mattis,

We are contacting you regarding the ongoing contamination of public and private drinking water wells near the former Naval Air Warfare Center in Warminster, the former Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Horsham, as well as the Horsham Air Guard Station in Pennsylvania. As you know, Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) have been detected in public water systems above the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established Lifetime Health Advisory levels.  In response to this contamination, public and private drinking water wells around these military bases in Horsham, Warrington and Warminster have been shut down and many of our constituents have been forced to discontinue use of their private well and connect to public water sources.

Through the investigative work of a local newspaper in our region, it has come to our attention that the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) had information concerning the possible adverse environmental and health effects stemming from the use of firefighting foams on military bases, over a decade before the public was made aware of these concerns.  According to minutes of a 2001 National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Foam Committee meeting, a letter written by the Undersecretary of Defense was read that described the fluorocarbon surfactants (PFCs) in the Aqueous Film-Forming Foam used by the military to fight certain classes of fires as ‘persistent, bioaccumulating and toxic.” Furthermore, these minutes describe a ‘March 16, 2001 meeting at DoD to discuss what actions they should take’ related to PFCs. Enclosed is a copy of the 2001 NFPA Foam Committee Meeting minutes referenced.

If these minutes accurately captured the content of the 2001 NFPA meeting, they show that DoD was aware of problems regarding the use of PFC-based firefighting foams long before any effort was made to discontinue their use or protect the public, in places like Horsham, Warminster, and Warrington, from further exposure.

In response to the revelation of this information, we respectfully request a copy of the letter from the Undersecretary of Defense referenced in the minutes, any additional information from 2001 that explains DoD’s understanding of the ‘persistent, bioaccumulating and toxic’ nature of PFCs, and further details regarding the March 16, 2001 meeting at DoD related to PFCs.

Thank you for your time and attention to this important matter.

Sincerely,