PFAS, the Chesapeake, and the Military

The Baltimore Sun recently published a front page article about how PFAS (toxic “forever” chemicals) are being released into St. Inigoes Creek in St. Mary’s County, which feeds into the Chesapeake Bay region.  The article only addresses toxins near the Patuxent Naval Base, but at least 16 other military bases in MD are also spewing these chemicals into surface waters around the state.  The groundwater near one base, the Chesapeake Bay Naval Research Laboratory, is contaminated at 3,442 times above the EPA’s voluntery guideline for drinking water! 

We have developed a petition to the MD Secretary of the Environment, and we invite you to sign it:

Secretary Grumbles: Protect Our Health

To Ben Grumbles, Secretary of the Department of the Environment, Maryland:

We were pleased to read in the Baltimore Sun that Maryland will begin testing drinking water, the Chesapeake Bay, and oysters for PFAS chemicals. We are grateful for your attention to this. Since the EPA has not set mandatory maximum contaminant levels for PFAS, the State of Maryland must act to protect us. We appeal to you to take the following actions: establish maximum contaminant levels for drinking water, like other states have done; conduct state-wide testing of water, soil and sludge; and ban PFAS.

We ask you to take the following steps immediately:

Establish State-Wide Standards:

  • Establish a maximum contaminant level of 1 ppt. for all PFAS in Maryland’s drinking water and groundwater.
  • Set PFAS levels for surface water and publish fish advisories for PFAS.

Test for PFAS :

  • Test all 3,653 public water systems for PFAS and require the testing of private systems.  Publish the results for all public water systems. We were alarmed to read that MDE will only release limited information about where the drinking water is tested due to “homeland security concerns.”
  • Test soil, sediment, surface water, and groundwater at all 85 current and former military installations with hazardous sites. The DOD has indicated that 16 of them have likely used PFAS substances.
  • Test crabs, fish, and oysters throughout the state for PFAS and establish consumption advisories to protect human health.
  • Test the soils and groundwater at landfills for PFAS.
  • Test sewage sludge to determine the levels of PFAS and establish limits for such materials–and prohibit any contaminated materials from being spread on farm fields.
  • Provide for the testing of private groundwater wells–especially those closest to the burn pits of military bases, municipal airports, and fire training areas. 

Ban PFAS in Maryland:

  • Ban the use of all fire-fighting foams containing PFAS.
  • Ban incineration, landfilling, or underground injection of materials containing PFAS and ban the transport of these substance out of state for these purposes.
  • Ban the use of any PFAS chemical in food packaging or wrappers.

We urge you to take these necessary steps to protect our health.

Please sign our petition to the Secretary. Click here for more information.