Contaminated Water on 126 Military Bases

 In Military

After the toxic water mess at Camp LeJeune from 1953 to at least 1985 led to cancer and every malady you can think of, you’d think that would have been the end of it. But it turns out that at least 126 military bases have contaminated water, on base or off base,  ground water or drinking water. Why? Because of the foam used to put out aircraft fires.

Nine Army bases, 40 Navy/Marine Corps bases, and 39 Air Force bases were reported to have levels of perfluorooctane sulfonate or perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOS and PFOAs) above the acceptable EPA standards. Families are being given filtration systems and bottled water while the military comes up with an alternative to the suppression foam, according to

The military began testing 400 bases last year for the toxic chemicals found in the “aqueous film-forming foam.” Out of 2,668 wells tested, 1,621 of them had levels above the acceptable limits, according to a DoD study. reported in 2017,

“For residents near former naval bases in Willow Grove and Warminster, Pa., the issue surfaced three years ago, when they learned their water had been tainted by PFOA and PFOS, perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) that are unregulated and little understood. Used in manufacturing and in military firefighting foam, they have been linked to health problems including testicular and kidney cancers, thyroid disease, and high cholesterol. Research on other potential health effects is ongoing, and some experts contend that even water below the EPA’s health advisory level is unsafe.”

When Camp LeJeune went through the years of contamination, the toxic chemicals were found to be from an “off-base dry cleaning company, from on-base units using chemicals to clean military equipment, and leaks from underground fuel storage tanks.” The wells supplying water for the base were reportedly contaminated with trichloroethylene and tetrachloroethylene. Many people contracted cancers and other illnesses from ingesting the water through the years.

The Air Force has been awarded a contract to find something less toxic to use to put out the fires.

But the problem isn’t just with  current bases- it has been around for decades. Some bases have been designated as EPA “Superfund” sites. According to Public,

“One of those installations, Hill Air Force Base just north of Salt Lake City, is both one of the state’s largest employers, with 21,000 employees, and a Superfund site. Since 1987, the EPA has been monitoring the base, where more than 60 chemicals were found in soil and groundwater. According to EPA records, an “unsafe level of contamination” still exists on some areas of the base.”

Cleanup is slow, and expensive. It took literally decades to take care of the Camp LeJeune water contamination, and it appears that this too, may take decades more.


Featured military photo via

  • Edward Rhoads

    I always wondered why the coffee at Camp LeJeune tasted like crap.

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