At least 14 sites at Camp Lejeune are likely to be contaminated with PFAS

Marksmanship training, Camp Lejeune, June 27, 2018. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Ashley Gomez)

Like most military bases, Camp Lejeune is a toxic mess.

It is one of 130 current or former military installations on the EPA’s Superfund list that are contaminated with dozens, if not hundreds of pollutants. That list now includes perfluorinated compounds — PFAS.

According to Camp Lejeune’s most recent five-year Superfund review, conducted by the EPA, there are at least 14 sites on base that are likely to have PFAS contamination. These include a firefighting training pit where groundwater levels have been detected at 500 times the EPA’s health advisory goal for drinking water.

However, it could be at least five years — Dec. 31, 2025 — before the Defense Department plans to have completed its evaluation of risks and exposures presented by PFAS contamination. A cleanup will likely take decades.

The sources of the PFAS are varied: industrial wastewater sludge, fire stations, the site of an Osprey helicopter crash, where PFAS-contaminated firefighting foam was used; the Camp Geiger Dump, which is near a former trailer park. The Department of Defense says no PFAS have been detected in drinking water above regulatory guidelines.

(In a separate issue, the EPA last week denied a petition filed by several citizens’ groups, including four in North Carolina, to require Chemours to fund independent scientific testing of 54 types of PFAS — a fraction of the 5,000-plus that are either in use, or have been, but phased out. The EPA responded that the groups did not provide “the facts necessary” that information and testing so far are insufficient.)

Here are some numbers about the PFAS contamination on base:

14 — Minimum number of sites at Camp Lejeune where there have been potential PFAS releases
7 — Minimum number of sites contaminated by firefighting foam that contained PFAS
7 — Minimum number of sites where PFAS-contaminated wastewater and sludge was dumped
70 parts per trillion — Maximum concentration of PFOA and PFOS in drinking water, according to the EPA’s health advisory goal. North Carolina
has adopted that goal, but other states, like New Hampshire and New Jersey, have far stricter and enforceable
standards, 12-15 ppt
35,100 ppt — Maximum concentrations of PFOS in groundwater downhill from a the Piney Green Road Firefighting Training Pit at Camp Lejeune
3,460 ppt — Maximum concentrations of PFOA in the same area
2.6 — Number of acres encompassed by the Piney Green Road pit
47 — Number of acres at an amphibious vehicle maintenance facility, where a fire occurred, and firefighting foam was used
100 — Number of acres encompassed by the Industrial Area Fly Ash Dump; PFAS-contaminated wastewater might have been deposited there

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Virginia governor unveils proposal to begin legal marijuana sales in 2023

Photo: Getty Images

Retail sales of recreational marijuana would begin in Virginia on Jan. 1, 2023, under legislation authored by Gov. Ralph Northam’s administration, which in addition to ending the state’s prohibition on the drug would expunge many past criminal convictions and create a state fund to help people arrested for marijuana crimes start legal businesses.

Northam came out in favor of legalization late last year and his bill, first made public Wednesday, represents a starting point for what’s expected to be a long debate during the legislative session that begins this week.

“Marijuana prohibition has historically been based in discrimination and the impact of criminalization laws have disproportionately harmed minorities in low income communities as a result,” said Sen. Louise Lucas, D-Portsmouth, who is carrying the legislation in the Senate with Sen. Adam Ebbin, D-Alexandria. “We’re focused on undoing those harms.”

Timeline

When Northam announced his support for legalization, he said he did not plan to rush the process, citing the experience of regulators in other states. True to his word, his legislation lays out a two-year timetable in which officials would begin drafting regulations and issuing licenses to marijuana businesses before retail sales would begin in 2023.

Until then, most of the state’s current laws governing the drug would remain in place and the drug, while currently decriminalized, would remain illegal and subject to existing criminal and civil penalties.

The decision is likely to disappoint criminal justice advocates, who have argued for an immediate end to the state’s prohibition, enforcement of which has disproportionately targeted Black Virginians.

Likewise, operators of Virginia’s tightly-controlled medical cannabis dispensaries, have been lobbying for permission to begin recreational sales this year to serve as a stop gap while regulators establish rules and begin a broader licensing process.

However, legislative analysts who studied the issue last year recommended against that approach, arguing early access to the retail market would give medical producers an unfair competitive advantage and, in any case, would be unlikely to meet anticipated demand for the drug.

Taxes and oversight

Northam proposes handing regulatory control of the new marketplace to the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority, which would be renamed the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage and Cannabis Control Authority.

But unlike the state’s monopoly on the sales of liquor, in which sales are restricted to state-run retail stores, the authority’s role in the marijuana industry would be limited to developing and enforcing regulations and licensing producers, processers and retailers. Read more

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