From special reports

The Navy will begin testing drinking water wells in late September in and around Naval Outlying Landing Field (NOLF) Joe Williams as part of the its commitment to ensuring local drinking water well supplies are not impacted from past Navy use of firefighting foam (AFFF). These tests will be at no cost to the well owners. This is part of the Navy's ongoing testing of drinking water wells that is currently taking place at and near Navy installations across the nation.

To keep the community informed, the Navy will hold a public meeting on Tuesday from 4-7 p.m. at Barney Brown Senior Citizen Center, 285 Veterans Street in DeKalb. The meeting will allow citizens to share their concerns and ask questions of public health experts.  

"This proactive Navy effort aims to help identify potential exposure to unregulated compounds in our neighbors' drinking water coming from private wells," said Capt. Brian Horstman, NAS Meridian commanding officer. "The Navy is committed to sharing additional information as it becomes available throughout the testing process."

Navy officials have informed residents surrounding NOLF Joe Williams Field in addition to members of the Mississippi congressional offices and officials in Kemper County regarding the Navy's current plan to test drinking water wells around NOLF Joe Williams for per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, aka PFAS.

PFAS are man-made chemicals persistent in the environment that are not absorbed well in soil and could migrate to groundwater.  PFAS have been used for many years to make products that resist heat, stains, grease and water, and have been used in a variety of products and substances, such as non-stick pans, water resistant textiles, and sprays with water resistant properties.

Similar tests were completed in Lauderdale County in May 2017 and included two homeowners with drinking water wells within one mile of NAS Meridian. The tests resulted in non-detects for the above mentioned substances.

In May 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued lifetime health advisory levels for two PFAS, specifically perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), at 70 parts per trillion, individually and combined if both are present. While there are no EPA regulations for these compounds, the EPA established these lifetime health advisory levels to offer a margin of protection for all Americans throughout their life from potential adverse health effects resulting from exposure to PFOA and PFOS in drinking water.

If well drinking water PFOS/PFOA concentrations exceed the EPA lifetime health advisory level, the Navy will provide alternate drinking water (typically bottled water) for these residents until an alternate, long-term solution is in place.

The most common historical Navy use of these chemicals has been as firefighting foam (AFFF) used on Navy installations. AFFF is the most effective way to put out petroleum-based fires, such as an aircraft accident.

In June 2016, the Navy issued a policy to identify areas of potential release of these materials to the environment.  As part of this policy, the Navy is testing for PFOS and PFOA in and around NOLF Joe Williams.

"Based on the results of the initial off-base drinking water well sampling, the Navy may need to expand the sampling area," Horstman said. "We are committed to responding in a timely manner through this process and will be involved until we complete the necessary actions."

More information about the Navy's PFAS initiative and drinking water testing program may be found at: