Family sues Navy, blaming it for contaminated drinking water

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NORRISTOWN, Pa. (AP) — A Pennsylvania family is suing the Navy, alleging their drinking water has been tainted by firefighting foams once used at two former bases in suburban Philadelphia.

A Navy spokesman didn't immediately respond when notified of the lawsuit filed Tuesday by the Giovanni family of Warrington. They live near the Horsham Air Guard Station.

The Navy previously has said it was taking action after the Environmental Protection Agency and Congress raised concerns about the water at the Air Guard station, the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Willow Grove and the Naval Air Warfare Center in Warminster.

The lawsuit contends the bases are the source of cancer-causing chemicals found in nearly 100 public and private wells near the properties.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages, medical testing for affected families and other relief.

In July, Navy officials said they won't fund blood tests for tens of thousands of residents who may have been exposed to contaminated water.

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf asked the Navy and Air Force in June to fund tests for area residents.

Navy deputy assistant secretary Karnig Ohannessian responded that federal public health officials recommended not conducting the tests.

Ohannessian said in a letter the tests won't help doctors determine current or future health risks related to perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) or perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) or guide treatment plans.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency also has determined exposure to the chemicals can come from food, water, air and consumer and industrial products, Ohannessian said. The blood tests can't say where or how someone became exposed, he said.

PFOA and PFOS were widely used for decades at the military bases. The compounds are found in the firefighting foams that have been used on military bases throughout the country and in household items including food packaging.

More than a dozen public wells and 140 private wells in the area have been taken offline because of contamination. The Navy and the National Guard Bureau have taken responsibility for the contamination and agreed to pay about $19 million to provide replacement water and install filtration systems.

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