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Fort Liberty, the former Fort Bragg, is one of the US military installations whose drinking water was contaminated with PFAS from AFFF. During the March 2023 quarterly Fort Liberty PFAS Contamination analysis, the Army reported combined PFOS and PFOA results of 12.3 parts per trillion (ppt) in drinking water. These PFAS levels are higher than the EPA LHA limits of PFOS 0.004 ppt and PFOA 0.02 ppt. In a 2020 drinking water sampling at Fort Bragg, a drinking water well located at a training area tested for combined PFOA/PFOS of 95ppt.

The Army Base has 13 wells at different training locations within the facility that are not connected to the central water supply system. The training areas wells include ATF #1, ATF #2, Camp Mackall, Fire Station #8, Range 30, Range 33, Range 43, Range 63, Range 74, Range 79, the Pre-Ranger site, Eureka and the USAJFKSWCS.

During a 2020 PFAS sampling, water samples from Range 74 had PFOS of 4.4ppt and PFOA of 7.9ppt. The Eureka Springs had PFOA contamination of 4.4ppt; however, the PFOS levels were below the applied method reporting limit.

Studies have linked PFAS (PFOA, PFOS, and PFBS) exposure to adverse health effects, including reduced immunity, pregnancy complications, increased cholesterol, and illnesses such as thyroid disease, liver problems/cancer, kidney problems, and testicular cancer. Those who lived at Fort Bragg Army Base might have been exposed to PFAS  through direct contact and drinking water. Contact Hugh Stephens if you suffer from one or more PFAS-related health problems after living at a military base where PFAS-based AFFF was used.

Fort Liberty Background

In 2023, Fort Bragg changed its name to Fort Liberty to become more friendly to black soldiers. The base was established in 1918 in North Carolina in a 120,200-acre Army field artillery site to train soldiers during World War I. It also served in training for World War II. The Base mission is to train airborne and special operations forces by facilitating a logistics and mobilization deployment center for the XVIII Airborne Corps, 82nd Airborne Division, and various Army and Joint Special Operations Forces. It is now the world’s largest airborne forces facility, with more than 45,000 military personnel. The most significant portion of Fort Bragg is the operational range area, used for training operations, such as small arms and explosives training and jump school training activities.

Fort Liberty PFAS Contamination- drinking water reports

Fayetteville Public Works Commission (PWC) and Harnett Regional Water supply drinking water to the Base main cantonment and housing areas. The Town of Southern Pines supplies Camp Mackall’s drinking water.

In September 2022, the Harnett Regional Water supply sampling results indicated PFOS of 11ppt and PFOA of 8.6ppt.

August 2022 PFAS sampling at the Glenville Lake and P.O. Hoffer treatment facilities, which are part of the Fayetteville Public Works Commission (PWC), reported high levels of PFOA and PFOS. Glenville Lake treatment facility had PFOA of 5.65ppt and PFOS of 11.7ppt. Sampling at P.O. Hoffer treatment facility water established PFOS of 11.8ppt and PFOA of 5.63ppt. The Camp Mackall distribution system had a PFOA contamination of 3.43ppt, but the PFOS levels were undetectable.

The Army conducted PFAS assessments at Fort Bragg severally. These investigations involved the Base tap water, groundwater, soil, and sediment testing. The first testing conducted between 2013 and 2014 did not show PFAS above the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) risk screening levels. The 2013/2014 sampling on the Fayetteville Water system involved the EPA Method 537, QSM Version 1.1, and the results showed PFOA of 0.02ppt, PFOS of 0.02ppt, and PFBS of 0.09ppt.

October 2015 groundwater sampling at the Base showed very high PFAS contamination at sites within the installation. The PFAS testing applied the EPA Method 537, QSM Version 1.1. According to these groundwater sampling results, building 708 and the retention pond groundwater had PFOS ranging from 50 to 1600ppt, PFOA between 62 and 150ppt, and PFBS of 30 to 570ppt. Groundwater samples from Buildings 722 and 724 had PFOS of 260 to 3100ppt, PFOA of 100 to 330ppt, and PFBS of 30 to 170ppt. Buildings 734 and 736 groundwater PFOS were 430 and 3000ppt, PFOA  210 and 1300ppt, and PFBS 110 and 740ppt.

Surface water sampling for Outfall 303 established PFOS of 420ppt, PFOA 30ppt, and PFBS of 20ppt. Building 750 groundwater sampling showed PFOS of 2900 ppt, PFOA of 74ppt, and PFBS of 30ppt. Building P3807 and the retention pond groundwater had PFOS ranging from 110 to 730 ppt, PFOA between 25 and 280 ppt, and PFBS ranging from 20 to 130 ppt. Building P7937 groundwater sampling showed PFOS of 2700 and 72,000ppt, PFOA of 220 and 2500 ppt, and PFBS of 1.7 and 2,000ppt. Groundwater at building  P9647 and the retention pond had  PFOS of 37 ppt, PFOA of 7ppt, and PFBS of 120 ppt.

2016 Fort Liberty PFAS Contamination Drinking Water Reports

All the drinking water wells in Fort Bragg were sampled for PFAS in 2016. Most wells had PFOS and PFOA ranging from 3.1 to 3.2 ppt. These included Range 30, Range 33, Range 43, Range 63, Range 79, Camp Mackall, ATF Well #2, and the US Army John F. Kennedy Special Welfare Center and School.

Well Range 74 had PFOS of 3.1ppt and PFOA of 9.52 ppt. Pre-Ranger had PFOS of 22.7 ppt and PFOA of 25.6 ppt. Eureka  Springs sampling indicated PFOS of 15.3 ppt and PFOA  of 2.62 ppt. The PFBS contamination at all the wells sampled ranged between 5.8 and 6.3 ppt. The sampling applied the US EPA Method 537, QSM Version NA.

The Fayetteville Public Works Commission entry point water sampled in 2016 (at the Fort Bragg entry point) showed PFOA and PFOS of 2 ppt, and no PFBS were detected in the water.

2018/ 2019 Fort Bragg Groundwater Sampling

In 2018/2019, the groundwater at three wells with high PFOS and PFOA was sampled in December 2018, March 2019, and June 2019. The results were as follows:

December 2018; PFOS- 1.7 ppt, PFOA- 4.6 ppt and PFBS 1.7 ppt.

March 2019; PFOS- 1.7 ppt, PFOA- 4.6 ppt and PFBS 1.7 ppt.

June 2019; PFOS- 1.7 ppt, PFOA- 5.4 ppt and PFBS 1.7 ppt.

December 2018; PFOS- 10 ppt, PFOA- 12 ppt and PFBS 2 ppt

March 2019; PFOS- 5 ppt, PFOA- 6.7 ppt and PFBS 1.7 ppt.

June 2019; PFOS- 9.6 ppt, PFOA- 11 ppt and PFBS 2.4 ppt.

December 2018; PFOS- 1.8 ppt, PFOA- 6.6 ppt and PFBS 7.3 ppt

March 2019; PFOS- 1.8 ppt, PFOA- 6.6 ppt and PFBS 4.9 ppt.

June 2019; PFOS- 1.7 ppt, PFOA- 5.2 ppt and PFBS 3.2 ppt.

2020 and 2021 Groundwater Sampling

All the groundwater wells were sampled in 2020 and 2021. Most of the 2020 groundwater samples had PFOS, PFOA, and PFBS of 1.7 to 1.8ppt. These include Range 30, Range 33, Range 43, Range 63, Range 79, USAJKF, and ATF Well #2. Pre-Ranger had PFOS of 26 ppt, PFOA of 32 ppt, and PFBS of 6 ppt. Range 74 PFOS contamination was 1.7 ppt, PFOA 5.6 ppt, and PFBS 3.5 ppt. At Eureka Springs, the PFOS contamination was 1.7ppt, PFOA 5.8 ppt, and PFBS 1.7 ppt.

The June 2021 groundwater sampling results established PFOA, PFOS, and PFBS of 1.7 ppt and 1.8 ppt in most wells, except for:

There are 14 drinking water supply wells at Fort Bragg’s main cantonment and operational range area and one isolated well at Camp Mackall. Three wells had high levels of PFOA and PFOS: Pre-Ranger, Range 74, and Eureka Springs. The contamination is believed to have occurred from the use of AFFF at the Base, but the source of impact has not yet been identified. Another water supply well at Fire Station Eight had high PFOS levels.

The Use, Storage, and Disposal of AFFF at Fort Braggs

AFFF is the leading cause of PFAS contamination at US Military Bases. The contamination mainly occurred during firefighting training activities, emergency response, testing of firefighting equipment, and accidental spills. The fire-fighting foam is made of water, an organic solvent, up to 5 percent hydrocarbon surfactants, and 1 to 3% PFAS. The firefighting foam is quite effective in putting out class B fuel-based fires. It is soluble in water because it has to be diluted before use to become 1 to 6% foam.

The US DoD changed to PFAS-free firefighting foam due to the effects of the PFAS in AFFF. PFAS containing AFFF can only be used under emergency circumstances.

Historically, smaller quantities of AFFF were stored at each respective fire station and large amounts at the Foam Shed (Building 254) near Fire Station #7 at PAAF and Pope Airfield Headquarters (Building 560).

The total AFFF quantity stored at Fort Bragg in 2018 was about 14,210 gallons of AFFF concentrate. It included Ansul Jet X 2.5%, Tyco Chemguard C2, National Foam Aero-Lite Water 3%, Buckeye High Expansion Foam 2.2%, National Foam Centurion 3%/6% (alcohol resistant AFFF), Chemguard 3%, and Phos-Chek 3% AFFF Mil-Spec. The foam is stored in hangars, vehicles, and storage facilities. It is used in fire suppression systems, emergency responses, and training activities.

Fort Bragg has ten fire stations and conducts regular firefighter and response preparedness training at several locations within the Base. Fire stations one to eight have previously housed the PFAS-based AFFF, while fire stations nine and ten are newly constructed. Some of these fire stations have been operational since World War II, with some previous ones unrecorded.

Various site inspections identified 16 areas of potential interest where PFAS-based AFFF was used and stored. These included:

All areas of potential interest identified in the Fort Bragg preliminary assessments had PFOS and PFOA exceeding 70 ppt, except for Camp Mackall – Fire Station #4, Former Fire Station A, Fire Station #6, Fire Response Area – Range 78 and Fire Response Area – Luzon Drop Zone.

PFOA and PFOS Exposure Pathways at Fort Bragg

Of the 42 areas of PFAS release identified in PFAS investigations between 2016 and 2021, 40 have complete or potentially complete exposure pathways. The groundwater exposure pathways on installation drinking water receptors are potentially complete to account for potential future use of the on-post groundwater downgradient of 40 areas of PFAS release.

The surface water exposure pathways for on-installation drinking water receptors are potentially complete at the six SAAF areas of potential PFAS release.  Runoff and groundwater drainage could reach (through the Little Cross Creek, which flows parallel to SAAF) the downgradient Greenville Lake, which is used as a backup emergency water supply for FPWC. Surface water and sediment exposure pathways are potentially complete for on-installation site workers at 33 AOPIs and on- and off-installation recreational users at 38 areas of potential PFAS release.

The groundwater exposure pathways for off-installation drinking water receptors are potentially complete at 39 areas of PFAS release due to the lack of land use controls preventing potable use of off-post.

Are you a victim of Fort Liberty PFAS Contamination?

Military service members, families, and civilians affected by PFAS in military bases across the US are filing lawsuits against AFFF manufacturers. Stephens and Stephens LLP are investigating cases of PFAS exposure at military bases. Contact Hugh Stephens for a free case evaluation if you or a loved one suffered from a PFAS-related illness after living at Fort Bragg.

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