February 24, 2023
TO THE EDITOR:
The water contamination issue at Cape Lejeune has an echo in the Downeast village of Atlantic in that in 2017, the US Marine Corps sampled some of the Atlantic residents’ wells which were near the Marine Corps Outlying Landing Field in Atlantic for two “forever chemicals”, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS). When the U.S. Marine Corps test results showed that PFOA and PFOS were present in many of the wells in Atlantic, the U.S. Marine Corps wrote these residents in 2018 and stated that most of the results were below the EPA’s Lifetime Health Advisory for PFOS and PFOA and that no further action was required at that time.
However, the EPA has released updated health advisories with new drinking water limits for PFOS and PFOA on June 15, 2022, and the EPA stated that the new much lower limits were needed because these “forever chemicals” do not break down in the environment over time and that even small amounts are very harmful to humans. See https://www.verisk.com/insurance/visualize/new-epa-drinking-water-advisories-set-acceptable-pfas-levels-near-zero/ .
Recent studies have shown that exposure to PFOS and PFOA is linked to many health issues including but not limited to kidney and testicular cancer, weakened immunity, endocrine disruption, fertility problems, and decreased birth weight. PFOS and PFOA can also be transmitted through human milk to a baby and also through the mother’s placenta to the fetus so that a newborn can have up to 10 times more of PFOS and PFOA than the newborn’s mother. Additionally, one study showed that children born with higher levels of PFOS and PFOA had a lower antibody response to childhood vaccines, and so, were not properly protected against these childhood diseases. See https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/features/stricter-federal-guidelines-on-forever-chemicals-in-drinking-water-pose-challenges/ .
Given the new EPA guidelines for PFOS and PFOA, the EPA, the State of North Carolina, and Carteret County Public Health Department need to conduct new testing of these wells for PFOS and PFOA and to take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that the contaminated wells in Atlantic are cleaned up and that no further wells in Atlantic are contaminated by the activities of the U.S. Marine Corps. The EPA, the State of North Carolina, and the Carteret County Health Department need to be the ones doing the well testing since if only the U.S. Marine Corps does the well testing, it is a classic case of the fox guarding the chicken coop.
Unfortunately, the U.S. Marine Corps, the EPA, the State of North Carolina, and other public health agencies have had a bad track record in quickly identifying and rapidly remediating drinking water contaminated by the U.S. Marine Corps as evidenced by the over 30 years of these organizations’ failure to timely act on Cape Lejeune’s drinking water contamination issues.
The people of Atlantic need to know if their wells are contaminated with these “forever chemicals” by the U.S. Marine Corps, and they need to know what effect these “forever chemicals” have had on their health, and finally, they need to know what the EPA, the State of North Carolina, the Carteret Public Health Department, and the U.S. Marine Corps are going to do to correctly identify who is at risk from these contaminated wells and what these organizations are going to do to timely correct this problem.
DEBORAH VAN DYKEN
Wells draw water from the aquifer. With that in mind these chemicals must reside in the aquifer . How does one clean up the aquifer ? How many other communities located down stream are affected ?
As we are seeing in Ohio , the EPA is not exactly doing a stellar job there . What would make anyone think to rely on them for this issue ? Commissioning a reputable private lab or two to do the testing would make sense . Two , because then you can compare the results for a clearer picture .
Cost of all this , wellll , as they say bend over .
On a side note , would be prudent to require any potential buyers of property to be made aware of this problem before they buy the proverbial pig in a poke .
Being vicious about this,its one way of slowing growth downeast and thining out the population.
Casa Carteret County is destroying itself.
drinking water will be a challenge in the coming century, the colorado river is a perfect current example, farms being cut off so cities can have that water. Another example is the aquifers in the wheat belt, now some 100 feet lower then they were 100 yrs ago. The good news is they have recently found a way to deal with PFAS, a way to break it down. The bad news its going to be expensive. Meanwhile we all do get our water from the same aquifer, even if you buy " city water" it is coming from the same source. Locally we have to worry about pfas contamination creeping in from the west, and salt water intrusion, salt water being pulled into our fresh water supply in ever larger amounts. This too can be dealt with with expensive filtering. Not a giant deal for a mac'mansion, for folks of modest means quite a big deal. Its all about population density, and "rv" parks that from the air look like lego towns, multifamily housing approvals increasing density, and a land boom with the "highway 42" drum beat fueling ever larger consumption on a water table already under considerable stress.
Cedar Point changed the zoning from mixed to residential so that developer wasn't required to put waste treatment plant on land next to waterway. 31 condos going up now behind Bojangles on Rte. 24. Where does all that poop go? Into the aquifer. Keep on building to get tax revenue? Any affordable housing going in there?
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