There Must Be Something in the Water: Understanding PFAS Contamination of Groundwater as a National Security Issue
Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts (BA)
John van Buren
This report addresses the widespread pollution of domestic groundwater resources with Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) caused by firefighting activities performed at military installations across the United States. Two former military bases in Southeastern Pennsylvania are used as a single case study: the Naval Air Development Center (NADC) in Warminster and the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base (NASJRB) in Horsham. Chapter 1 gives a history of domestic military bases from the perspective of the infrastructure buildup and downsizing that occurred over the 20th Century, along with the environmental degradation revealed during brownfield redevelopment. The chapter then gives specifics about the base cleanup process under the Base Closure and Realignment Act of 1988 and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA). Chapter 2 delves into the ongoing human and environmental health concerns caused by the pollution of NADC and NASJRB. Chapter 3 examines the state- and federal-level water quality and hazardous materials laws in place applicable to the pollution of groundwater with PFAS. Chapter 4 examines CERCLA and its role in the management of PFAS pollution caused by the DOD, then uses the nationwide public health crisis caused by PFAS to argue that comprehensive national security requires the defense of environmental health. Chapter 5 details the developments in public policy and PFAS regulation that have occurred over the past two years. Through a synthesis of the information gathered in the preceding chapters, Chapter 6 concludes the paper by urging for parties responsible to regulate PFAS and other hazardous chemicals responsibly, and by advocating for the DOD to recognize the critical role that environmental health plays in safeguarding national security.
Ford, Kylie N., "There Must Be Something in the Water: Understanding PFAS Contamination of Groundwater as a National Security Issue" (2019). Student Theses 2015-Present. 99.
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