Local Lawmakers Call for Federal Study to Determine Health Impacts of Water Contamination
HARRISBURG – Citing local residents’ right to safe, clean drinking water, Reps. Todd Stephens (R-Montgomery), Kathy Watson (R-Bucks/144th) and Bernie O’Neill (R-Bucks) today thanked their House colleagues for supporting a resolution that asks the federal government to study any potential health effects stemming from water contamination at the former Naval Air Station in Willow Grove.

House Resolution 682, which passed the House unanimously today, urges the U.S. secretary of Health and Human Services to select the former Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Willow Grove and the former Naval Air Warfare Center in Warminster for an exposure assessment and study on human health implications of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (“PFASs”) contamination.

“Residents are rightly concerned that there may be long-term health impacts from the water contamination issues the area has experienced,” said Stephens. “I am thankful our colleagues in the House recognize the seriousness of this issue and have supported us in getting this resolution passed in a timely fashion. I am also hopeful that the study will also happen quickly and families can start to get some answers.”

Over the past several years, public and private drinking water wells in Bucks and Montgomery counties have been shut down due to contamination from PFASs suspected of being released by the military in the form of firefighting foam. PFASs and other emerging contaminants are compounds being sampled for the first time in public water systems. In 2012, the Environmental Protection Agency added PFASs to its list of unregulated contaminants that may be hazardous to human health.

“Local residents deserve to know if their health has been compromised,” Watson said. “Although the water is now safe to drink, it is unclear how long these contaminants have been in the water system. By studying this particular case, our neighbors can be afforded additional information and alerted to what they could expect in the future. We’re also hopeful it will lead to additional resources and funding being set aside to address whatever impacts are to follow.”

“We have been working with our partners in local, state and federal agencies for the past few years to get our residents answers to their questions and concerns,” O’Neill said. “So much is still unknown about these contaminants, and that’s why this study, which we hope will not take long, is so important – not just to our residents but to anyone nationwide who may have been exposed.”

According to the resolution, the assessment and study will help state and federal lawmakers understand the implications of the exposure and will aid the federal government in conjunction with state and local agencies to reverse the contamination and protect the health and welfare of our residents.

Now that the resolution has passed, it will be transmitted to the president of the United States, United States secretary of Health and Human Services, United States secretary of Defense, the presiding officers of each chamber of Congress, and to each member of Congress from Pennsylvania.

Representative Todd Stephens
151st District

Representative Bernie O’Neill
29th District

Representative Kathy Watson
144th District

Media Contact: Jennifer Keaton
KathyWatson144.com / Facebook.com/RepWatson

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