Fourteen members of Congress representing seven states are calling on President Donald Trump's administration to hasten the Department of Defense’s investigation of drinking water contamination across the country.
Their call came in a letter to Trump that was signed by eight Democratic members and six Republicans — including three local congressmen.
The toxic chemicals PFOS and PFOA, the subject of an ongoing investigation by this news organization, have been found in drinking water supplies of millions of Americans, including in nationally record high amounts in Bucks and Montgomery counties. The chemicals are believed to have come from a wide variety of private and public sources, including firefighting foams widely used by the military dating back to 1970.
The letter from the U.S. representatives noted the DOD is investigating the presence of the chemicals at hundreds of military sites across the country. However, the letter questioned the speed at which the department is conducting those investigations and examining potential contamination of drinking water supplies.
“It is critical that DOD take immediate action to prevent further exposure,” the letter stated. “Despite the dangers PFCs present, DOD has been slow to provide safe drinking water to those areas with contaminated water.”
The letter noted the chemicals have been linked by some studies to child development and reproductive issues, increased cholesterol levels, immune system deficiencies, and increased cancer risks.
It also said that, despite prior calls by members of Congress for the DOD to prioritize investigations, “There are still veterans, their families and surrounding communities exposed to PFC-contaminated drinking water that the DOD has yet to address.”
The letter concluded by asking President Trump to speed up the response.
“We have asked our service members to make critical sacrifices for our freedom and we must assure them that they, and their families, have access to safe drinking water,” the letter stated.
Locally, the three most heavily-impacted water authorities — in Warminster, Horsham, and Warrington — closed drinking water wells contaminated above the Environmental Protection Agency’s recommended safety limit for PFOS and PFOA over the past several years. Each authority has also implemented stringent plans to eliminate the chemicals below the point of detection, and are in varying stages of completing those efforts.
In 2014, some of the highest PFC contamination levels ever discovered in drinking water were found in the water supply of the Horsham Air Guard Station. That water previously served personnel on the former Naval Air Station-Joint Reserve Base Willow Grove. Workers at the guard station were given bottled water after the contamination was discovered.
The letter to Trump was signed by a trio of congressmen from Bucks and Montgomery counties who have been actively addressing the contamination issue: Brian Fitzpatrick, R-8, of Middletown; Brendan Boyle, D-13, of Northeast Philadelphia; and Patrick Meehan, R-7, of Upper Darby.
The letter was also signed by representatives from California, Delaware, Michigan, New Hampshire, New York and Virginia.