Secretary of Defense Takes Action Against Toxic Chemicals on Military Bases

Legally reviewed by Brendan Garcia , Owner and Lead Attorney

Mark Esper, newly appointed Secretary of Defense, established a task force to deal with cancer-causing chemicals found in water sources on military bases. Concerns were initially raised when an environmental advocacy group concluded that at least 175 military installations nationwide are contaminated by fluorinated compounds known as PFAS. Esper told reporters at the Pentagon last Wednesday that the purpose of the task force is to address the military’s response to the dangerous chemicals found in both drinking water and groundwater.

The contamination is due to PFAS chemicals that were commonly found in military firefighting foams used on bases. A health advisory recommendation released from the Environmental Protection Agency in 2016 urges that water sources keep PFAS levels under 70 parts per trillion. However, PFSA levels in water at many military facilities exceed 100,000 parts per trillion. Although these totals exceed the recommendation put in place by the EPA, no legal repercussions are in order because the contamination limit is only an advisory.

The new task force will examine the issue from multiple lenses and brainstorm solutions such as cleaning up the water or finding a new alternative for current firefighting practices. Not only will the military department and health affairs be involved, but Esper also says that he has reached out to the Environmental Protection Agency and requested their help. The task force will centralize their efforts on six key areas regarding the contamination: health, cleanup, finding substitutes, creating a science-supported standard for exposure and cleanup, and interagency coordination, and public perception. Esper plans to attack the issue in an aggressive manner with the force set to be in full effect within 30 days and an initial report due in 180 days.

There are thousands of veterans who suffer from cancers linked to PFAS chemicals. If you or a loved one suffers from similar circumstances, do not hesitate to reach out to VetLaw’s team of attorneys who are experienced in serving former servicemembers in all 50 states and can help you obtain the financial compensation you deserve.