The law firm connected to consumer advocate Erin Brockovich announced Tuesday it’s investigating water contamination in Montgomery County amid growing concerns that cancers and other illnesses may be connected to chemicals used on local military facilities.
“Like so many other communities across the country also facing a PFOA-contaminated drinking water crisis, this community has many questions about how long they have been drinking this dangerous water, what effect it is having on their well-being and who is at fault. This investigation will seek to answer those questions,” said Robin Greenwald, head of the Environmental and Consumer Protection Unit at Weitz & Luxenberg in written statement.
Concerns about the drinking water ramped up last month after the EPA issued new guidelines showing elevated levels of the cancer-causing chemicals PFOA or PFOS in Horsham, Warrington and Warminster – which are all near the shuttered Willow Grove Naval Air Station and current day Horsham Air Guard Station where firefighting foam containing the chemicals have been used.
U.S. Rep. Brendan Boyle, D-Phila., called Monday for a congressional hearing into allegations of contaminated groundwater.
“It feels like we won, just a small thing,” said Valerie Secrease, crying when she heard the firm has agreed to look into contamination. Secrease helps run a private Facebook group of people who worked at Willow Grove Naval Air Station and want to know if their cancer or life-threatening ailments are connected to the water on the base.
The group has swelled to more than 1,600, many of whom have either suffered health issues themselves or lost a loved one. Secrease worked on the base for more than 25 years and has been living with malignant melanoma for the last two decades.
"There are nights I don’t sleep and it goes over and over in my mind about the people who have passed and the people who have suffered and the women who are still crying over losing their husbands,” said Secrease. “The joy I feel is not for myself, but for all the rest of the people who have been suffering. Maybe, just maybe, they’ll get some kind of closure.”
Weitz & Luxenberg has conducted similar investigations in New York, Vermont and New Hampshire. Recently, the firm filed a federal class action lawsuit against a plastics company for its role in PFOA water contamination in Hoosick Falls, NY.
"Communities across our country are realizing that the source of life – water – could in fact be making them seriously ill,” said Brockovich. "It is time to give this community a voice and make sure those responsible are held accountable for this issue.”
We've reached out to the EPA and Navy and are awaiting their responses.