Speaker details tainted water concerns; says 3 wells on Guam positive for PFAS

Vice Speaker Tina Muna Barnes (PNC file photo)

Speaker Tina Muna Barnes has released more details about GovGuam’s concerns regarding PFAS contamination of the island’s drinking water.

PFAS chemicals, known as “forever chemicals” because they do not break down, are linked to health impacts ranging from elevated cholesterol and reproductive harm to developmental delays and even an increased risk of certain cancers.

According to the Speaker, three wells on Guam have tested positive for PFAS.

In addition, fire suppressing foam that is known to contain PFAS was used more commonly by the military and Air Force bases because it was the most effective way to put out jet fuel and tens of thousands of gallons were used monthly for training purposes.

Moreover, the three wells that tested positive for PFAS tested above the 70 parts per trillion acceptable by the Environmental Protection Agency at about 200-250 parts per trillion.

The Speaker said PFAS can also be found on Guam’s landfills.

“While I support the governor’s bill and will continue fighting for the welfare of our island and its people, the body has spoken and I will respect the will of the body,” the Speaker said in reference to the Legislature’s decision to move back discussion on the governor’s Prutehi I Hanom Act of 2019.

She added: “We are not in defiance of the Governor, but we are keeping our commitment to the people of Guam as their elected leaders.”

The Speaker disclosed that the Government of Guam has less than 25 business days to be a part of a multi-district litigation because the court has set a deadline of Aug. 4, 2019 to add new parties to the existing case.

“By acting expediently, the government of Guam avails itself the opportunity to seek adequate counsel to represent our people. There have been approximately 100 cases that have been filed regarding PFAS and these cases have been transferred to a multidistrict litigation court in the District Court of South Carolina,” the Speaker said.