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Drinking water sampling at Yakima Training Centre confirmed the presence of high levels of PFAS. During the 2019 sampling, the drinking water well at Yakima Training Area tested for combined PFOS and PFOA of 103ppt. The latest drinking water PFAS sampling of November 2022 established a combined PFOA/PFOS of 3.3ppt. EPA’s most recent drinking water LHA for PFOS is 0.004 for PFOA and 0.002 ppt for PFOS. These limits were established following findings that PFAS exposures close to zero can cause adverse health effects.

Those living at the Yakima Training Center have been exposed to unsafe PFAS levels through drinking water. These contaminations occur from the use of PFAS-based AFFF at the Army Base. Since the 1970s, the Department of Defense has used PFAS-AFFF to put out fires. Firefighting exercises at military facilities are linked to the highest PFAS release. Once these compounds are in the environment, they leach through the ground, contaminating the soil and groundwater.

These compounds also migrate to the neighboring community water sources through the groundwater aquifers. In January 2023, the Army tested 300 wells serving residents around the training center. Of the 87 wells tested, 62 wells had PFOS and PFOA levels exceeding the Environmental Protection Agency’s health advisory of 70 parts per trillion.

Studies have shown that exposure to PFAS, such as PFOS and PFOA, increases the risk of certain health conditions and illnesses, including kidney, liver, and thyroid problems and cancers. These compounds are also associated with reduced immunity, testicular cancer, reduced vaccine response, increased cholesterol, and pregnancy-related complications.

File a Lawsuit on PFAS at Yakima Training Centre

Military members exposed to PFAS through direct contact and in drinking water and later developed PFAS-related health problems are filing lawsuits against the AFFF manufacturers. Stephens and Stephens LLP are investigating cases of PFAS exposure at military bases nationwide. Contact us for a free case evaluation; our charges are contingency-based.

About Yakima Training Center

Yakima Training Centre (YTC) was initially known as Yakima Firing Center. It is a Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s satellite facility located about 5 miles northeast of the city of Yakima and about 100 miles east of Joint Base Lewis-McChord. The training was established in 1941 to provide the US military and allies with training facilities, maneuver areas, and ranges. It also offers the Army, Army Reserve, and Washington National Guard facilities for training artillery, infantry, and engineering. Before the installation of the facility, the land was privately owned and used for ranching and mining. Cleanup exercises (under CERCLA) for soil and groundwater contaminants, including munitions and explosives of concern; petroleum, oil, and lubricants; and volatile organic compounds are underway.

Investigation for PFAS at Yakima Training Centre

Since 2016, the US Army has performed preliminary assessments, site investigations, and remedial action on PFAS exposure at their installations across the United States under the CERCLA. The preliminary assessment identified areas where PFAS might have been released through the storage, use, disposal, and accidental spillage of PFAS-containing material. It also evaluates the potential secondary impacts of PFAS and possible migration. The most significant PFAS-containing material identified is the aqueous firefighting foam (AFFF) the US DoD has used for decades in firefighting training activities. Site investigation activities aim to establish potential contamination in areas of potential PFAS release, through sampling of soil, sediments, groundwater, and surface water.

Drinking water well sampling

Most drinking water wells sampled at the Yakima training center in August 2019 had PFOS and PFOA below 1.8 ppt and two ppt. These included Pomona (Bldg 829), Bowers (Bldg 860), Jordan (Bldg 550), MPRC (Bldg 84B), MPRC (Bldg 84B), Badger Gap (Bldg 2110), Badger Gap (Bldg U084E), YRS (Bldg 1901), YRS (Bldg 1901), Hester (Bldg unavailable), Range 55 (Bldg 2555), Exit 11 (Bldg 2239), Dead Truck Farm (Bldg 0020) and New Doris Well.

Wells Ponoma, Jordan, and Bowers had PFOS and PFOA ranging from 1.7 to 2.0 ppt and supplied water to the cantonment area drinking water distribution system. YRS and MPRC wells provide water for the Yakima Research Station drinking water distribution system and Multi-Purpose Range Complex, respectively, and had PFOS and PFOS ranging from 1.8 to 2 ppt. The PAIC well supplies drinking water for approximately 60 residences and businesses off-post. Water from the remaining wells is pumped and treated as needed, supplying drinking water to troops during training exercises. These wells are not connected to the main cantonment drinking water distribution system.

Water samples collected at drinking water well Range 55 (Bldg 2555) had high levels of several PFAS:

Selah Airstrip (Well House, Bldg 2060) also reported high levels of PFAS as follows:

In November 2019, wells with high PFAS (i.e. Selah Airstrip and Range 55) were shut down. Primary wells supplying water to the base had PFAS ranging between 1.7 to 2ppt, above the recent EPA PFOS and PFOA LHA levels of 0.004 and 0.02. According to the EPA, even PFOA and PFOS exposure levels close to zero could have adverse health effects.

In September 2020, groundwater, sediment, and soil sampling were conducted at identified areas of potential PFAS release to assess PFOS and PFOS concentration. The areas identified include:

Groundwater sampling results of PFAS at Yakima Training Centre

All 13 groundwater samples collected contained PFOS, PFOA, and PFBS concentrations exceeding 40ppt. PFAS were also identified in existing wells MMP-1, MMP-2, 815-2, TVR-5, and MRC-2 within 50 to 500 feet of the installation boundary. These wells are located in the path of groundwater flow, moving from areas of AFFF release at Yakima Training Center. Six samples had PFBS exceeding 600ppt. An existing well, FTP-1, located at the Former FTP (YFCR-53), had a PFOS of 45,000ppt, PFOA of 5,200ppt, and PFBS of 5,900ppt. The site investigation report concluded that the Former FTP had the highest residual mass of PFAS of all the areas of AFFF release at the center.

Groundwater sampling conducted between August and November 2019 at wells located within the Selah Airstrip showed PFOS of 96 to 100 ppt. These wells and TVR-5, MMP-1, and MMP-2 are impacted by PFAS contaminants from multiple release areas.

Soil sampling of PFAS at Yakima Training Centre

Thirteen soil samples were collected for testing during the 2020 site investigation. Ten samples contained PFOS, PFOA, and PFBS. A sample collected at the Refractometer Solutions Testing Area had the highest PFAS concentration of PFOS 0.76 mg/kg, PFOA 0.0027 mg/L, and PFBS 0.0025 mg/kg.

Sediment sampling

The sediment sample collected downgradient of the Refractometer Solutions Testing Area had PFOS of 0.10 mg/kg and PFOA of 0.0013 mg/kg. PFBS was not detected in the sample. PFAS were not detected in the intermittent stream west of Selah Airstrip.

Surface water sampling did not show any PFOS, PFOA, and PFBS.

Off-base groundwater sampling

The September 2021 Seres-Arcadis Joint Venture sampling of off-post private potable wells was conducted at 22 locations. Eight drinking water wells serving twelve households had PFOS and PFOA levels exceeding 70ppt. In October 2021, the Army tested 108 private wells west of the YTC, serving 56 residences. It established that 38 of these wells had PFAS levels exceeding the EPA Lifetime Health Advisory (LHA) of 70 parts per trillion (ppt). And provided bottled water to the affected locations, pending an expanded investigation area.

Exposure Pathways PFAS at Yakima Training Centre

Contaminants at the former crash truck station area at the Selah airstrip included PFOS, PFOA, and PFBS. The investigation determined that AFFF was used in this area, resulting in contamination. Those who worked at the site were potentially exposed to these contaminants in the soil through ingestion, inhalation, and direct contact with the skin.

The 2020 site investigation identified the following complete exposure pathways for site workers at all the identified areas of AFFF release: Building 821 and 751, Selah Airstrip, the Refractometer Solutions Testing Area, and the three AFFF Storage Areas, i.e. Fire Station 29, Building 346 and AFFF Storage Area in Building 321. There is also a  soil exposure pathway for subsistence users at the Selah Airstrip AOPI.

Why file a PFAS at Yakima Training Centre lawsuit?

Thousands of military service members, firefighters, and municipalities have already filed PFAS-AFFF lawsuits against the product manufacturers. In June 2023, 3M, the leading manufacturer of AFFF, agreed to pay 10.3 billion dollars over 13 years to aid with the cleanup of PFAS-contaminated drinking water supplies. The other three AFFF manufacturers set up a  $1.185 billion settlement fund, with Chemours contributing 50%. DuPont and Corteva each paid 25% of the amount.

If you or a loved one was affected by PFAS in contaminated water at military bases, filing a lawsuit would help hold those liable to account and recover damages. Contact Hugh Stephens at Stephens and Stephens LLP for a free case review.

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