Congress is looking into whether companies tried to conceal the health risks of an industrial chemical used in firefighting foam at military bases across the country.
NAS Jacksonville is one of more than 600 sites exposed to the toxic compound. Last month, the Navy tested wells in Mayport and an auxiliary airfield on the Westside to ensure the drinking water did not contain toxins.
These chemicals were used by the company 3M to make those products. Studies have shown that these compounds can increase the risk of cancer. The company stopped using these chemicals in the early 2000s, but the concern is that they remain in the environment, and can lead to serious health problems.
Congressional leaders grilled representatives from 3M Wednesday, saying the company has known for decades that these chemicals are dangerous and actively took steps to conceal that information from the EPA and consumers.
The company fired back, testifying that there is "no cause and effect" between these chemicals and health problems.
"The studies we have do not indicate at the levels of exposure in the environment in the past or today that adverse human health effects exist. We are however continuing our studies and we will work proactively with scientific bodies," 3M’s Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs Denise R. Rutherford said.
At the hearing, the company refused to compensate people negatively impacted by these chemicals.
The results from the water testing in Jacksonville should be available by the end of the month.