Satellite Beach officials release water testing results in response to cancer cluster concerns

EPA: Water found with firefighting chemicals at 70 parts per trillion unsafe

By Emilee Speck - Digital journalist

SATELLITE BEACH, Fla. - Several weeks after groundwater locations around Satellite Beach were tested for toxic firefighting chemicals the results are in, city officials said Wednesday, showing that several locations did not meet the Environmental Protection Agency's standard for unsafe drinking.

The City hired Tetra Tech to test three sites for Perfluorooctanoic Acid and Perfluorooctanoic Sulfonate, chemicals once used in fire suppression, after citizens voiced concerns about environmental factors causing a string of recent cancer diagnoses.

A younger generation of Satellite High graduates have been diagnosed with rare cancers for which they have no family history. 

According to EPA standards, water found with firefighting chemicals at 70 parts per trillion is considered unsafe. A recent report by the Department of Defense found concentrations of 71 parts per 4.3 million at 28 different water wells on Patrick Air Force Base and Canaveral Air Force Station.

A direct link between the military and a possible cancer cluster has not been found.

City officials said Wednesday they received a written report for water testing conducted at newly dug wells on city-owned property. According to those results, tests found 41.5 parts per trillion at City Hall, 22.85 parts per trillion next to Satellite High School, and 30.13 parts per trillion at Sea Park Community Park.

"The City is currently discussing these results with state and county experts as to how exactly this impacts our residents," the Satellite Beach city manager's office said in a statement. "Please use your own judgment as to how you want to handle your irrigation water on your property. Please remember that your groundwater is not your drinking water and we use our groundwater primarily for irrigation purposes."

Brevard County Public Schools also hired a Rockledge company last month to collect water samples from school drinking fountains and cafeteria kitchen sinks at 13 barrier island schools, including Satellite Beach High School. Those results should be released before the start of the school year.

After the initial findings were posted to the city manager's Facebook page, several residents, including Satellite High School graduate Jennifer Jackson, who was 19 when she was diagnosed with bone cancer, posted links to a recent report from the Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry. The report recommended the new standard for toxic chemicals in groundwater should be much lower at 11 parts per trillion.

The results from the city tests will be sent out to the public on Friday.

Dr. Julie Greenwalt will host a meeting about cancer cluster research on Sunday and city staff will be at a community meeting with the testing company to answer questions about the results. That meeting will be at the Civic Center at 2 p.m. on Cassia Boulevard.

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