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In 2018, the Army confirmed PFAS contamination at Picatinny Arsenal drinking water supply wells. Two wells were found to contain combined PFOS and PFOA of 88.5 ppt and 100.3 ppt. EPA recently changed the LHA for perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) from the previous combined levels of 70ng/L to 0.004 ppt for PFOS and 0.02 ppt for PFOA.

According to the EPA, PFAS exposures close to zero might affect the health of specific demographics and could cause adverse health effects. Studies have linked prolonged exposure to PFOS and PFOA to health conditions including reduced immunity, low response to vaccines, pregnancy-related problems, testicular cancer, as well as problems with the kidney, liver, and thyroid – including cancer.

Soldiers, families, and civilians living at the Picatinny Arsenal Army Base could have been potentially exposed to PFAS through drinking water, direct contact with Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF), and/or inhalation. If you or your loved one suffers from a PFAS-related illness after living at the base, you could be eligible for compensation from the AFFF manufacturers.

The US Department of Defense has used PFAS-based AFFF to put out class B fuel and chemical fires since the 1970s. The PFAS in AFFF gradually leaches through the soil into groundwater, which migrates into nearby downgradient wells.

It is unknown how long these chemicals have been sitting in the groundwater wells at this army base or the length of time that those residing at the base have been exposed to PFAS contamination.

About Picatinny Arsenal

The 5,900-acre facility is located in Rockaway Township, Morris County, New Jersey, four miles northeast of Dover and 45 miles west of New York City. It was established as a storage and powder depot toward the end of the 19th century. The installation produced munitions for World War I, World War II, and the Korean and Vietnam Conflicts. These weapons include explosives, rocket and munitions propellants, pyrotechnic signals and flares, fuzes, and metal components. Weapon production at the installation is gradually being replaced by research and development. The facility is now a Joint Center of Excellence for Armaments and Munitions, serving all military branches. It is also the headquarters for the Armament Research, Development, and Engineering Center and produces small caliber weapons and munitions.

The use and storage of AFFF at Picatinny Arsenal

Picatinny Fire Department stores AFFF and fire equipment and materials at Building 3321 storage warehouse. In 2018, the facility had one dozen 55-gallon drums and smaller closed containers of AFFF. About 10 gallons of AFFF leaked from one of the drums.

AFFF is also stored in the Picatinny Fire Department firetrucks at Building 169 – Firehouse 1 and Building 3316 – Firehouse 2. AFFF has only been used for Picatinny Fire Department operations, including fire department training (arc training),  equipment testing, and fire response activities. These activities are linked to the PFAS contamination witnessed on and off-base groundwater supplies.

Groundwater/drinking water sources at Picatinny

Picatinny Arsenal has three groundwater drinking water portable wells:

Groundwater from these wells is first pumped into the treatment plant’s surge tank, mixed with sodium hypochlorite, and filtered. Potassium permanganate may also be added depending on the quality of the influent water.

In May 2018, following the establishment of PFAS contamination in the groundwater, the Army installed a Granular Activated Carbon (GAC) System to remove PFAS, including Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA), Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS), afrom the drinking water supply. The system comprises two vessels/contactors operated in a series. As per EPA regulations, quarterly sampling has been ongoing since 2019 to test contaminants in the drinking water.

After the GAC treatment, any remaining contaminants are removed through an air-stripping system, and from there, the water flows into a secondary surge tank, where it is disinfected with chlorine. The treatment plant can process about a million gallons of water per day.

PFAS Contamination at Picatinny Arsenal Drinking Water Supplies

March 2018 PFAS sampling identified PFAS in the water supply from Building 1383 Water Treatment Plant Point-of-Entry, which American Water operates. The PFAS in the treated drinking water were PFOS of 64 ng/L and PFOA of 11 ng/L.

In October 2018, untreated water from the portable wells was tested for PFAS. Portable Well 131  pre-treated water had PFOS of 68.9 ng/L and PFOA of 10.6 ng/L. Untreated water from portable well 302 D had PFOS of 68.7 ng/L and PFOA of 9.6ng/L.

After treatment, no PFAS were detected from either portable wells. (with a limit of quantitation (LOQ) of 5.0 ng/L for both PFOS and PFOA). Also, no PFAS was detected on samples collected at the mid-treatment with granular activated carbon. The wells have been used to supply drinking water at the base for decades. It is also suspected that most of the contamination might have occurred due to leaking mains identified and repaired in 2008.

PFAS contamination at the base might have also impacted off-post groundwater wells and surface water resources by migrating ground and surface water. The affected off-post municipal well fields and drinking water reservoirs are located south and east of Picatinny Arsenal.

The May 2018 preliminary assessment identified areas of potential interest where PFAS-based AFFF was released (used or stored). These include:

There are areas of potential PFAS release located upgradient or in the capture zone of on-post potable wells, which are likely to impact the on-base drinking water wells. They include Area 1222 – Gorge, Former Building 24, and Building 169 – Firehouse 1.

In September 2018, the Army conducted a pre-site investigation at Picatinny Arsenal to evaluate potential PFAS migration off-post on the Southern Boundary and establish the need for collecting groundwater samples from off-post private potable wells.

The investigation identified ten areas of potential interest and developed a drinking water pathway for each area of PFAS exposure. All the identified areas posed a potential threat to drinking water receptors. Areas of PFAS release impacting drinking water receptors located at the south include Building 169 – Firehouse 1, Former WWTP Facility, Post Farm Landfill, Former Pyrotechnic Area and Sanitary Landfill, Former Lower Burning Grounds, and Former Building 24.

Areas of potential PFAS release impacting drinking water receptors located off base to the eastern boundary are  Building 3316 – Firehouse 2,  Lawn to the North of Building 3409/3410, and Building 3801 –NJARNG Helipad Area.

PFAS tests on groundwater and surface water samples collected from the eastern and southern boundaries to evaluate the potential for PFAS to migrate off-post identified PFOS exceeding the EPA limits at both borders.

2018 Groundwater surface water and soil testing results at areas of PFAS release were as follows:

Sampling results for PFAS migration at the base boundaries:

Exposure Pathways PFAS Contamination at Picatinny Arsenal

The 2021 Picatinny Arsenal PFAS investigation identified potential human receptors and exposure pathways for groundwater and surface water that could potentially be used for drinking water and possible soil and sediment exposure pathways. The results for exposure pathways were as follows:

File a PFAS Contamination at Picatinny Arsenal Lawsuit

If you resided at Picatinny Arsenal, you may have been exposed to PFAS-contaminated water. Thousands of military service members affected by PFAS due to water contaminated by the use of AFFF are filing lawsuits against the companies that manufactured this fire suppressant. They are seeking damages for both economic and non-economic losses. If you or a loved one is a victim of PFAS contamination, you could be eligible for compensation. Contact R. Hugh Stephens, Esq. today for a free case evaluation.

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