Sens. Casey, Carper hear 'sobering' testimony on polluted water near air base

Jim Melwert
April 08, 2019 - 1:54 pm
U.S. Sen. Tom Carper hosted a discussion in Horsham on April 8, 2019, with Sen. Bob Casey in attendance, on a dangerous chemical found in drinking water near Willow Grove air bases.

Jim Melwert/KYW Newsradio

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HORSHAM, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) -- With continued frustration over a chemical found in drinking water around the Willow Grove air base on the border of Bucks and Montgomery counties, U.S. Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del, the ranking member on the Enviroment and Public Works Committee, hosted a discussion in Horsham on Monday.

Carper has introduced legislation to force federal action.

Hope Grosse, co-founder of BuxMont Coalition for Safer Water, says she grew up right next to the base. 

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"We thought it was fun to go watch these drills," she said. "And today, thinking about all that foam running in to the local creeks, and we drank well water ..."

Grosse is a cancer survivor. Her father died of cancer in his 50s. Even family pets had tumors.

“It needs to be addressed," she said. "The polluter needs to pay, and it’s not happening. We’re seeing bits and pieces." 

She says, while there’s been action at the state and local level, the federal government has dragged its feet.

Carper joined Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., who called the discussion "sobering."

"This discussion we had today was a stark reminder of what has not happened in terms of federal government action," Casey said.

Carper has introduced legislation that would mandate the EPA declare PFAs as hazardous substances and require polluters to pay for clean-up.

Tina O’Rourke with the Horsham Water and Sewer Authority, which has set a goal of non-detection of the chemicals in the township’s water, calls it a step in the right direction but adds, "Five years since this was first discovered, it’s a shame the pace hasn’t moved quicker. And it’s a shame that local folks have had to take their own steps that were probably more appropriately done by the folks that were experts in this."

In addition to firefighting foam, PFAS are also found in plastics, stain repellants and non-stick cookware.

In February, the EPA said it would address PFAS, but the announcement lacked specifics, including a timeline or an acceptable limit in drinking water.