Testing will begin later this month on drinking-water wells in areas of Kemper County surrounding Naval Air Station Meridian’s Joe Williams Field. Officials with the U.S. Navy will conduct the testing.

Before testing begins, the Navy will hold a public meeting on from 4-7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 19 at Barney Brown Senior Citizen Center in DeKalb. Public health experts will be on hand hear citizens’ concerns and answer questions.  

According to a news release from NAS Meridian, the testing is part of the Navy’s commitment “to ensuring local drinking water well supplies are not impacted from past Navy use of firefighting foam.”

The testing is free to residents.

”This proactive Navy effort aims to help identify potential exposure to unregulated compounds in our neighbors' drinking water coming from private wells," said Capt. Brian Horstman, NAS Meridian commanding officer. "The Navy is committed to sharing additional information as it becomes available throughout the testing process."

The Navy is testing drinking water wells around NOLF Joe Williams for per-and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, also known as PFAS. In June 2016, the Navy issued a policy to identify areas of potential release of these materials to the environment.  

According to the release, “PFAS are man-made chemicals persistent in the environment that are not absorbed well in soil and could migrate to groundwater.”

PFAS have been used to in a variety of products, such as non-stick pans, water-resistant textiles and sprays with water-resistant properties, the release said.

In May, similar tests were completed in Lauderdale County and included two homeowners with drinking water wells within a mile of NAS Meridian. No substances were found.

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