EPA receives feedback from residents exposed to polluted water near military bases

Jim Melwert
July 25, 2018 - 3:46 pm
The Environmental Protection Agency is holding an all-day community engagement meeting at Hatboro-Horsham Senior High School to get feedback from a residents who were exposed to chemicals in their drinking water.

Jim Melwert | KYW Newsradio

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HORSHAM, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — The Environmental Protection Agency is holding an all-day community engagement meeting at Hatboro-Horsham Senior High School to get feedback from residents who were exposed to chemicals in their drinking water. 

The chemicals, known as PFAS (polyfluoroalkyl substances), were used in firefighting foam at the naval air bases, which seeped into groundwater.

Water suppliers have taken steps so that current drinking water has no detectable levels.

The EPA, which is hosting the community engagement, said it was priority to speak with members of communities exposed to the chemicals.

Federal officials spoke at the panel, including Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Maureen Sullivan, who said their efforts in addressing the chemicals are complicated by Congress' inability to pass a proper appropriations bill. But part of a recent bill that is waiting for the president’s signature could alleviate some of those challenges.

"To do an assessment of the health effects of PFAS exposure for individuals who served as members of the armed forces and were exposed to PFAS in their careers," she said.

State Rep. and life-long Horsham resident Todd Stephens said he’s hopeful but skeptical of the meeting.

"The EPA has continually let our community down, so my expectations are fairly low," he admitted. "But I’m hopeful they'll walk away with a clearer understanding of the impact this is having on our community, and they really need to take action."

But resident Joanne Stanton, who grew up in Warminster, said she hopes the EPA sets enforceable drinking water standards for other communities.

"We are Department of Defense superfund military sites — two of them we are sandwiched in between. So we've been exposed to many, many toxic chemicals over the years," she said. "Our concern is how does PFAS combine with other chemicals we were exposed to? Like heavy metals, like TCB, PCB, hexavalent chromium."