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PFAS Contamination at Alameda Naval Base groundwater endangered the health of military personnel, civilians, and their families living there. Before 1974, the Base dumped untreated industrial wastewater in the Seaplane Lagoon and the Oakland Inner Harbor. This led to the addition of 35 Installation Restoration sites at Alameda Naval Base to the list of EPA for cleanup, already costing over $600 million to remediate.
Some PFAS, such as perfluorobutanesulfonic acid (PFBS), perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), have adverse health effects, including the development of thyroid cancer, kidney disease, liver problems, infertility and interference with fetal development. These compounds’ properties and ability to migrate through the soil and groundwater make them persistent in the environment.
PFAS are synthetic organofluorine compounds with unique chemical structures and properties, including high heat resistance and repelance to water and oil. The compounds are also highly resistant to biodegradation, photo-oxidation, direct photolysis, and hydrolysis. They are used in many industrial applications and consumer products such as personal care products, nonstick cookware, food paper wrappings, carpeting, apparel, upholstery, metal plating, and the production of aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF).
About the Alameda Point
Alameda Naval Air Station was commissioned in 1940. The name was later changed to Alameda Point after the Base was closed due to financial challenges. It is located on the western tip of Alameda Island in Alameda, California. It occupies 2,675 acres, 1,560 uplands, and 1,115 submerged acres.
Thousands of military personnel and civilians were exposed to PFAS in drinking water at the former Alameda Naval Base before its closure in 1997. You could be eligible for compensation if you suffer from PFAS-related illness after residing at the Base for at least one year. Contact Hugh at Stephens and Stephens LLP for a free case evaluation.
In 2016, the EPA issued a drinking water PFOA/PFOS combined lifetime health advisory (HA) of 0.07 microgram per liter (µg/L). In December 2019, the EPA published another guidance recommending that screening of sites be based on a target hazard quotient of 0.1 for PFOA or PFOS individually, which is 0.04 µg/L. The groundwater concentrations should be compared with one-tenth of the calculated tap water regional screening level [RSL] of 0.4 µg/L for PFOS or PFOA, translating to 0.04 µg/L). The target quotient of 0.1 (i.e., one-tenth the acceptable concentration for noncancer effect) protects against the possible co-occurrence of multiple PFAS and chemicals with similar additive health effects in groundwater.
The EPA recommends a lifetime HA of 0.07 µg/L be used as the preliminary remediation goal for groundwater that is a current or potential source of drinking water where no state or tribal maximum contaminant level or other applicable or relevant or appropriate requirements are available or sufficiently protective.
California State Water Resources Control Board PFAS regulation
In June 2018, the California State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) Division of Drinking Water (DDW) introduced notification levels and guidelines for testing and reporting PFOA and PFOS. The DDW interim notification levels are 0.014 µg/L for PFOA and 0.013 µg/L for PFOS. However, these maximum contaminant levels are nonregulatory as they lack enforceable regulatory standards. The State Water Board also included a combined PFOA/PFOS interim response level of 0.07 µg/L, consistent with the EPA drinking water lifetime HA.
The testing for public water systems is not mandatory. However, results exceeding these HA levels must be reported. The state recommends that water resources exceeding these levels be removed from service. In July 2019, the California Legislature passed Assembly Bill 756, which gave the State Water Board authority to test water systems for PFAS, report any detected PFAS in its annual consumer confidence report, and issue a public notification within three days. In 2019, the Board lowered the PFOA and PFOS response limits to 0.0051 µg/L and 0.0065 µg/L, and later in 2020, further to 0.010 µg/L for PFOA and 0.040 µg/L for PFOS.
In May 2020, the California Regional Water Quality Control Board, San Francisco Bay Region (RWQCB), provided PFOS and PFOA environmental screening levels (ESLs) for soil and groundwater. The groundwater included values for direct exposure, maximum contaminant level priority, ecotoxicity for freshwater and saltwater, and seafood ingestion for freshwater and saltwater.
Testing of PFAS Contamination at Alameda Naval Base
Aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) is a significant source of PFAS release to the environment at DON installations. The DON had used PFAS-based AFFF in fire training exercises, in suppression of aircraft and vehicle fires, and in aircraft hangar fire suppression systems at many installations for decades. PFAS-based AFFF was invented in the 1960s and has been used since the 1970s. These foams are only allowed for emergency fire response.
In November 2016, under the DoD guidance, the Navy sampled IR sites where AFFF was initially used. During the investigation, they tested 30 wells for PFOA and PFOS, and 16 were above the LHA of 70 ppt. Areas sampled include IR Site 6 and OU-2C that impact Parcels FOST3C-1, FOST3C-2, and FOST3C-3. High PFAS and PFOS levels exceeding the LHA of 70ppt were detected in shallow groundwater at site six and OU-2C. Some samples had low PFOS and PFOA levels below the laboratory detection limit. For those with PFOS/PFOA above the EPA LHAs, the results ranged from 112 to 336,000 ppt, up to 4,800 times the EPA limits of 70ppt. The investigation was expanded to include the remainder of IR Site 5 and IR Sites 10 and 12.
The Navy’s 2016 preliminary assessment of PFAS Contamination at Alameda Naval Base involved sampling six groundwater wells around the firefighters’ concrete training pad where fires were started and txtinguished. Groundwater samples from this area had PFOA and PFOS exceeding 35,000 parts per trillion.
Military activities associated with high PFAS release include:
- Fire training exercises at structures or burn pits
- Crash crew training activities
- Hangar fire suppression system operations, testing, and accidental releases
- Firefighting and crash response vehicle testing and cleanout
- Emergency response, such as vehicle and aircraft crash sites and responses to class B or fuel fires
- Improper filling and leakage from storage tanks, firefighting trucks, or crash response vehicles
- PFAS may be released from oil/water separators (OWSs) receiving PFAS-containing wastewater and from landfills where PFAS-containing materials or waste were disposed of.
- Where PFAS is used in mist suppression systems associated with chromium plating operations
The preliminary assessment for PFAS within the boundaries of the former Alameda Naval Base, where material containing PFAS was handled, stored, used, and released, was completed in July 2021. Areas identified as potentially exposed to PFAS include:
- Pesticide Storage Area and Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) Sludge Disposal (IR Site 7)
- Former New Fuel Farm (IR Site 14)
- Waste Oil Recovery Area (IR Site 21)
- Former Dry Cleaner (IR Site 24)
- Naval Technical Training Center (NTTC) Fire Training School (AOI 1)
- Former Naval Station Fire Department (AOI 2)
- Helicopter Landing Area (AOI 3)
- Former Fire Station and Equipment Storage (AOI 4)
- Pier 1 (AOI 54)
A site investigation for PFAS Contamination at Alameda Naval Base focused on specific areas of potential release identified in the preliminary assessment. Soil, sediment, and groundwater samples were collected and analyzed for PFAS compounds. Soil borings were also advanced in areas suspected of being involved in PFAS releases, including eight onshore areas and sediment sampling at one nearshore area. The site investigation involved:
- Soil sampling from 33 boreholes 0 to 2 feet below ground surface (bgs) and 4 to 6 feet bgs (66 soil samples) at IR Sites 7, 21, and 24 and AOIs 1, 2, and 3.
- Groundwater sampling was also conducted at the 33 boreholes listed above and the other 10 boreholes at (IR Site 14 and AOI 4) which were converted into monitoring wells.
- Groundwater at two existing wells at IR 24 were also sampled for PFAS
- 45 groundwater monitoring wells were used to collect depth-to-water measurements
- Five sediment core locations were advanced, and samples collected from 0 to 0.5 foot bgs, 1 to 2 feet bgs, and 2 to 3 feet bgs at each location to evaluate potential release of PFAS
In March 2021, the Navy launched soil and groundwater sampling at the former Firefighter Training Area at Alameda Point to determine the extent of contamination and whether the chemicals moved to the Oakland Estuary via tidal action. The testing involved boring into the soil to groundwater at 20 locations throughout the site and the adjacent land. The training area is within a larger 14-acre cleanup area dubbed Site 14, which had already undergone groundwater cleanup of chlorinated solvents stored there. The data collected would allow the Navy to make recommendations for remediation.
The PFAS assessment was completed in May 2021, and 11 contaminated sites were identified. The firefighting training area was selected for initial sampling and remediation action, and the outcome would help manage similar contamination in other sites. In 2021, the Navy injected 180,000 gallons of activated charcoal into the PFAS-contaminated groundwater at the firefighting training area to prevent the migration of PFAS to the Oakland Estuary. PFAS cannot be broken down, but once they come into contact with carbon, they bond permanently with carbon, isolating it and preventing it from moving. The DoD follows the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA of 1980), also known as Superfund, to regulate its chemical contamination cleanup exercises.
File for PFAS Contamination at Alameda Naval Base Lawsuit
Those affected by the PFAS Contamination at Alameda Naval Base through drinking water are filing for compensation from the product manufacturers. These include people who lived at the Alameda Naval Base and were diagnosed with kidney cancer, liver cancer, congenital disabilities, and infertility, among other illnesses. The US Department of Veteran Affairs acknowledges that US veterans might have been exposed to PFAS through AFFF contamination.
Reach out to our attorneys for free consultation. Potential defendants include 3M Company, Tyco Fire Products, Buckeye Fire Equipment, Chemguard, Du Pont de Nemours, Chemours Company, Chubb Fire, Corteva, National Foam, Kidde Fire Fighting, Enterra Corp, Williams Holdings, Dynax Corporation, UTC Fire & Security and America’s Corp. You have a right to file for compensation, if you suffered any harm as it may help with the financial burden that resulted from the illness as well as holding the responsible entities accountable for their actions.