Potentially cancer-causing chemicals detected in Satellite Beach groundwater

SATELLITE BEACH, Fla. — Samples of groundwater in Satellite Beach revealed the presence of potentially cancer-causing chemicals, but the city has yet to determine what that means for residents.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection said the U.S. Air Force is leading an effort to assess the potential environmental impacts from former firefighting operations at Patrick Air Force Base.

The base no longer uses the chemicals that are now of concern, but those chemicals can migrate to groundwater.

Perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA, and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid, or PFOS, were already found in high concentrations in groundwater at the base.

The chemicals are associated with firefighting foams and some household products and have been linked to some forms of cancer and other medical issues.

"I'm not going to obsess about it. I just want to stay knowledgeable as it all evolves," resident Tiffany Turk said.

Groundwater testing was done in Satellite Beach and Cocoa Beach.

Brevard Public Schools tested drinking water, even though that water comes from the cities of Cocoa and Melbourne, which haven't detected the chemicals that are causing concern.

The testing followed questions sent to the state about what many view as an abnormally high number of cancer diagnoses among people who have lived in the area.

The industrial chemicals were detected at 41.5 parts per trillion near Satellite Beach City Hall, 22.85 parts per trillion near Satellite High School and 30.13 parts per trillion in the groundwater near Sea Park Elementary School.

As a benchmark, the United States Environmental Protection Agency has established a health advisory level for drinking water at 70 parts per trillion.

"This is groundwater that we do not use for drinking water," said Courtney Barker, Satellite Beach's city manager. "But the fact that it is there in a concentration as high as those numbers -- although lower than 70 -- is concerning to us."

Resident Bekah Coates said the news is cause for concern.

"It's been concerning here, having it tested so close to home, but again, we're not going to worry ourselves sick about it but just keep on guard," she said.

The city of Satellite Beach and the school district said they will receive written test results by Friday.

The city of Cocoa Beach said it should receive preliminary results by Thursday.

The information will be discussed during a meeting at the Satellite Beach Civic Center on Sunday afternoon. Click here for more information.