For years, Navy personnel trained with a chemical foam to extinguish a potential fire at a Growler crash site. Two of Coupeville’s community wells have been contaminated by these chemicals. While industry and local fire stations are required by law to eliminate this type of fire-fighting foam, the Navy – along with refineries and chemical plants – is exempt and maintains a stockpile. A four-fold increase in operations at the OLF increases the likelihood that foam will be used.
Central and South Whidbey islanders have no access to fresh water apart from the aquifer underlying the island. This natural reservoir is what makes Whidbey Island habitable. One Growler crash could contaminate all of Central Whidbey’s water supply and its single-source aquifer.
New studies reveal safe levels of these toxins is a tenth of the current EPA standard. Coupeville water is above the new limits. In August of 2018, Senator Maria Cantwell, joined by other senators, introduced legislation to hold federal agencies, including active and decommissioned military bases, responsible for contamination of ground water by fire-fighting chemicals.