Feds asked to help out in Guam water contamination problem

Vice Speaker Telena Nelson

A resolution has been filed asking the federal government for help in mitigating possible PFAS contamination of Guam’s water.

Introduced by Vice Speaker Telena Cruz Nelson, and co-sponsored by Sens. Amanda Shelton and Sabina Perez, Resolution No. 168-35 was introduced Wednesday after lawmakers passed the governor’s Prutehi I Hanom Act of 2019.

The resolution requests the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, and the Department of Defense to select Guam as one of eight sites to be studied for the possible health implications of polyfluoroalykl substances.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) are planning to conduct a multi-site study on the human health effects of exposures to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) through drinking water.

Possible sites of the study include communities whose drinking water has been or is contaminated by use of aqueous film forming foam used at civilian and military sites or by industrial PFAS emissions.

Nelson’s resolution also calls for the Department of Defense to immediately initiate actions to address elevated levels of polyfluoroalykl substances in water wells previously operated by the military and returned to the people of Guam as well as those water wells also affected by the use of firefighting foam containing perfluorooctanesulfonic acid by the military on Guam.

“The people of Guam deserve to know the full extent to which our island and our families may have been affected by these harmful chemicals,” Vice Speaker Telena Nelson said in a news release. “The public health risks raised by the prolonged presence of these chemicals are deeply concerning to our community and the many families stricken by health issues, such as thyroid disease and cancer. We look forward to the Department of Defense providing answers to our people and acting on our contaminated water wells.”

For her part, Sen. Amanda Shelton said the discussion reignited over the last few weeks surrounding the safety of Guam’s water has shown that the time to act is now.

“As a community, we must pursue all avenues to ensure that we have access to safe water and protect this life source for generations to come,” Shelton said.