A Bucks County family is taking on the U.S. Navy over chemicals that bled off local military bases and into their drinking water as well as water used by close to 70,000 other people who live and work nearby.
Toxic chemicals, called PFCs, were used for decades in firefighting foam at the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Willow Grove and Naval Air Warfare Center in Warminster. PFCs have been linked to cancers and numerous other ailments.
The Giovanni family, who declined an interview, has lived virtually across the street from Willow Grove, since 2003. Test results of their well water showed PFC levels 40 times higher than what's considered safe over a lifetime by the Environmental Protection Agency. The suit does not say if any family member is suffering health-wise from exposure to PFCs, but no one really knows the long term effects of these unregulated chemicals.
In the complaint, filed Tuesday, the family asks the Navy to cover the cost of monitoring the future health of the parents and three children. But the big ask is for the Navy to pay for a health assessment and/or study that includes blood testing not just for the Giovannis, but for the close to 70K others exposed in Warrington, Warminster and Horsham Townships where both the public and private water supplies have been contaminated with PFCs.
To date, the Navy has rejected calls by lawmakers, including Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, to test the blood of community members and have not responded to NBC10's recent requests to discuss the issue. In late May, however, the director of Base Closure Management Office, Greg Preston said the Navy wasn't prepared to pay for blood tests because they'd hadn't found any value in the testing. "Because we're not really sure, the experts are not really sure what to do with those results at this point in time -- what they really mean and how they translate," Preston said.