Naval Support Activity Mechanicsburg

Naval Support Activity Mechanicsburg is located in Hampden Township.

Although complete results won’t be available until next month, preliminary results from the Navy’s testing of residential wells around the Hampden Township depot don’t indicate an elevated level of chemicals known as PFAS.

“All the preliminary results are below the [EPA advisory] level,” said Chris Cleaver, the public relations officer for Naval Support Activity-Mechanicsburg.

Full results won’t be available until 30 days after the testing, which began Aug.1, and the Navy plans to issue a report at that time, Cleaver said.

Testing was conducted for a family of chemicals known as perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl compounds, or PFAS, which were previously used in a type of firefighting foam common to U.S. military bases.

In 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency issued a health advisory regarding two specific PFAS — perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA, and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid, or PFOS — finding that exposure of over 70 parts-per-trillion, either to one substance or the two in combination, is linked to developmental disabilities in children, hormonal imbalances, an increased risk for certain cancers and other health problems.

Military agencies have since been testing bases across the country to detect the extent of possible groundwater contamination.

In Cumberland County, the Navy depot and the vast majority of surrounding homes in Mechanicsburg and Hampden Township use public water from treatment plants owned either by Pennsylvania American Water Co. or Suez Water.

The Navy found 95 homes within the depot’s drainage radius that use well water and were contacted for testing.

Previous Department of Defense testing has identified several sites in Pennsylvania with elevated PFAS levels. In central Pennsylvania, this includes Letterkenny Army Depot near Chambersburg and the Air National Guard site at Harrisburg International Airport near Middletown.

Pennsylvania, at the state level, has also rolled out a plan to test 400 additional sites of possible contamination statewide.

While PFAS contamination at military sites is typically associated with firefighting foam, the chemicals can also used in metal plating and electronics manufacturing, and are found in some Teflon products and clothing.

Although the 70 ppt limit from the EPA is only an advisory, both state and federal regulators are working to set a maximum contamination level that will create more legal requirements for testing and remediation.

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Email Zack at zhoopes@cumberlink.com.