PFAS Contamination at China Lake Naval Base, CaliforniaOctober 9, 2023
PFAS Contamination at Fort Leavenworth Army Base, Kansas Drinking WaterOctober 10, 2023
Langley and Eustis military bases were joined in 2010. Joint Base Langley-Eustis Virginia PFAS Contamination tests done in 2018 by the Environmental Working Group (EGW) at the Langley Base groundwater indicated one of the highest combined PFOA and PFOS of 2,225,000 ppt. The Base groundwater also tested positive for another PFAS, Perfluorobutane sulfonate (PFBS). The former Fort Eustis Military Base 2017 groundwater sampling also showed high levels of PFOS and PFOA of 77,600ppt. PFBS was also confirmed in all the base’s groundwater samples tested. PFAS contamination at military bases originates from PFAS-based AFFF, which the military used to put out fires and for firefighting training since the 1970s. The contaminated groundwater has migrated to the neighboring groundwater sources in the region, which the communities of Hampton and Newport News, including veterans, use for drinking.
While PFAS-based AFFF effectively puts out heat-intensive flames such as those of chemicals and fuel, it does not break down naturally. Some PFAS are said to take over 1,000 years to degrade. Also, these compounds accumulate in the body with continued exposure because the human body cannot excrete them quickly. Studies have shown that PFAS remain in the body for eight to nine years before they are entirely removed. The persistence of these compounds makes them even more dangerous. As a result, the health of thousands of service members and civilians who resided at these military bases exposed to PFAS-based AFFF is at risk.
File a Joint Base Langley-Eustis Virginia PFAS Contamination Lawsuit
Stephens and Stephens LLP are investigating cases of PFAS exposure to military service members. You could be eligible for compensation if you or your loved one suffers from a PFAS-related illness after living at an army base. Soldiers and civilians suffering from PFAS-related health problems who resided at military bases where PFAS-based AFFF was used are filing lawsuits against the firefighting foam manufacturers. Filing a lawsuit against these companies is the only way they can take responsibility for the harm they caused. You can get compensated for your non-economic and financial losses, such as medical bills, pain, and suffering.
AFFF manufacturers named in the PFAS lawsuits include 3M, DuPont, Chemguard, Inc., National Foam, Inc., Tyco Fire Products, Buckeye Fire Equipment, Kidde, BASF Corporation, Dynax Corporation, Chemicals Incorporated, Sentinel Emergency Solutions, LLC, Carrier Global Corporation, Archroma U.S., Inc., Arkema Inc., PBI Performance Products, Inc., Raytheon Technologies Corporation, AGC Chemicals Americas Inc., Amerex Corporation and Clariant Corporation.
Investigation of Joint Base Langley-Eustis Virginia PFAS Contamination
Joint Base Langley-Eustis Virginia PFAS Contamination Investigations were conducted at specific sites within the joint base, targeting areas where AFFF was used for training and putting out fires. These include firefighting training areas, hangars, crash sites, and emergency fire response areas.
Former firefighting training area (AT006P-SUB)
Groundwater and soil samples taken from (AT006P-SUB), a former firefighting training area at the northwest corner of the former Langley Base, tested positive for PFOA-3 ug/L, PFOS-14 ug/L, and PFBS -2 ug/L. The area borders James River to the West and a tidal creek to the Northeast. This former firefighting training area was active between 1968 and 1994.
EnChem and the University of Rhode Island site investigation confirmed that surface and subsurface soil samples from this area contained PFAS decades after exposure. The investigators tested surface soil, subsurface soil, surface water, sediment, and groundwater. Surface water in the area flows towards the North wetlands and the tidal creek, while the groundwater flows towards James River and the tidal creek.
Surface soil samples collected from firefighting area 1 also tested positive for PFAS. All the affected firefighting areas are closed, and access is restricted.
The area has three aquifers: an unconfined Columbia Aquifer, a shallow aquifer occurring only one ft below the ground surface, and the Yorktown-Eastover Aquifer, 25ft below the ground surface, which is a significant source of water for residents in the southeastern Virginia region.
The base has no drinking water wells, and the closest public water supply wells are at least 1.82 miles. The former Langley Air Force Base receives water from Newport News Waterworks (NNWW) and the Harwood’s Mill Water Treatment Plant. NNWW is a significant source of water in the region, and it draws groundwater from six wells north of the base of depths above 500ft and surface water from the Chickahominy River. Firefighting water is drawn from Brackish (slightly salty) ground wells in the Lee Hall area.
The EWG collected and tested soil samples from site AT006P-SUB, where the PFAS-based AFFF was used. The soil sampling showed the presence of PFOS of 0.32 mg/kg, PFOA of 0.015 mg/kg, and PFBS of 0.034 mg/kg. Researchers found evidence that the contaminants had migrated to areas of exposure.
Fire Training Area (AT007P)
Soil and groundwater sampling was also done at the joint base’s current Fire Training Area (AT007P). This area is located at the Felker Airfield, on a 90,000 square feet concrete pad, and is surrounded by a runway, a grassy area, and building 2418 (it is also the parking area for the building). AFFF is only used a few times annually during testing and certification activities. The spent AFFF is allowed to evaporate from the concrete pad. However, rainwater from the area flows into the airfield oil/water separators, sewer systems, and the surrounding wetlands.
Subsurface soil and groundwater samples were collected from an existing hole that had been cored through the concrete. Other samples were also collected from a drainage ditch close by, sentiment and surface water samples were collected from a stormwater outfall, and groundwater was sampled downgradient, 50 feet from the slab.
Fire Station #2 Joint Base Langley-Eustis Virginia PFAS Contamination
Groundwater sampled at site AT007P showed high levels of PFAS, with PFOS of 2.5 ug/L, PFOA of 0.61, and PFBS of 0.51. the researchers believe that PFAS in the groundwater has potentially migrated to points of exposure. Soil sample tests conducted from AT007P indicated the presence of PFOS of 0.055 mg/kg, PFOA of 0.00099 mg/kg, and PFBS of 0.00029 mg/kg. Researchers also concluded that PFAS at the site had potentially moved beyond the point of release.
Soil and groundwater were also sampled at Fire Station #2 at the Joint Base Langley-Eustis, also indicating very high levels of PFAS. The site is an active fire station near Felker Airfield and has been operational since 1955. Groundwater from the site had PFOS of 77 ug/L, PFOA of 4.6 ug/L, and PFBS of 24 ug/L, and these contaminants have potentially moved from the point of release. The soil samples from the same site had PFOS of 0.41 mg/kg, PFOA of 0.0092 mg/kg, and PFBS of 0.0078 mg/kg. These contaminants may have migrated from the point of release. Groundwater at Fire Station #2 was measured at depths of 1.5 feet bgs to 1.8 feet “below the top of causing” at monitoring wells MW-2, MW-3, and MW2904.
Former Fire Training Area FT-41 -FT041P-SUB
The site is located north of the joint base. The current FTA was put up in 1985 at the exact location where the former fire training area (FT-41) was constructed in the 1960s. It is a 200 ft gravel area bordering the wetlands, the Tabbs Creek, and a golf course. AFFF used in the area is allowed to dissipate without draining. Water from the regions is drained through a pump system to the western side of the FTA where it flows along with surface water. AFFF is only used in pump truck testing at the site, which is approximately two to ten gallons per crash truck. About 50 gallons of accidental AFFF spills at this site occurred in 2014.
The samples tested from FT-41 included five groundwater samples, four subsurface soil samples (6 to 8 ft. below the ground surface), one surface water sample, and one sediment sample. Groundwater from the area flows towards the wetlands and Tabbs Creek.
Groundwater samples were collected from existing wells of 1.58 to 2.81 ft bgs. PFBS, PFOA, and PFAS were detected in the subsurface soils, groundwater, surface water, and sediment samples. Groundwater samples had PFOS of 75 ug/L, PFOA of 23 ug/L, and PFBS of 37 ug/L. Surface water and sediment samples from the receiving wetlands were tested and showed low but detectable PFAS concentrations. Researchers believe that contaminated groundwater from the site might have migrated to drinking groundwater sources.
Hangar 338 and Building 343 – SS074P
Hangar 338 is a former hangar at the west end of the flight line in the middle of JBLE-Langley. Building 343 was the mechanical building for the AFFF system until the building was converted into an office space and the AFFF system was deactivated. Minimal quantities of AFFF have reportedly been released to the environment surrounding the hangar and structure during the hangar operations. High PFAS levels were detected in this area’s groundwater, including PFOS of 670 ug/L, PFOA of 23 ug/L, and PFBS of 43 ug/L. soil samples from this area also tested positive for PFOS of 0.19 mg/kg, PFOA of 0.0022 mg/kg, and PFBS of 0.00078 mg/kg.
Joint Base Langley-Eustis Virginia PFAS Contamination at Hangar 342
The AFFF system in the hangar system was installed in 1988 with a capacity of 400 gallons. Samples collected from this site include two surface soil, subsurface soil, and shallow groundwater samples. Sampling was not done on surface water and sediments. Groundwater in the area occurs at a depth of 2.38 to 2.78 ft bgs, and it flows toward the Southwest Branch of the Back River.
PFBS of 2200 ug/L, PFOA of 26 ug/L, and PFAS of 49 ug/L were detected in the groundwater samples. Surface soil samples collected from hangar 342 had PFOS of 200mg/kg, PFOA of 0.31 mg/kg, and PFBS of 0.15mg/kg.
Plane Crash Sites
Two fires were reported at the plane crash site #1( SS072) in 1981. Groundwater samples collected from the site had PFOS of 46 ug/L, PFOA of 33 ug/L, and PFBS of 7.2 ug/L.
Plane Crash Site #2 (SS072P) groundwater samples had PFOS of 0.7 ug/L, PFOA of 0.13 ug/L, and PFBS of 0.26 ug/L. Soil samples collected from the site indicated PFOS of 0.0021 mg/kg, PFOA of 0.0014 mg/kg, and PFBS of 0.00055 mg/kg.
Bethel Fire Emergency Site (SS073P)
Groundwater samples from a fire emergency site at the former Shoppette gas station at Bethel Manor Housing area where AFFF was used to extinguish a fire in April 2007. The sampling showed PFOS of 0.67 ug/L, PFOA of 0.067 ug/L, and PFBS of 0.037 ug/L. PFAS from this site might have moved away from the source.
Effects of PFAS exposure
Continued exposure to PFAS has been linked to specific health conditions, including pregnancy-related problems, low birth weight, liver and kidney illnesses/cancer, decreased response to vaccines, increased cholesterol, testicular cancer, thyroid disease, and other cancers. The Department of Defense was oblivious to the health effects of the toxins in the AFFF, and the manufacturers did not warn the public about it.
Those who served at Langley and Fort Eustis military bases are likely to have been chronically exposed to PFAS through direct contact with the firefighting foam, food grown in contaminated soil and water, drinking water, and inhalation. In 2016, the EPA issued a PFAS health advisor of combined PFOA and PFOS of 70ppt, which they later changed to 0.004ppt for PFOA and 0.002ppt for PFOS. These changes were made following findings that even the least PFOA and PFOS exposure could have devastating health effects.