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2016 testing of PFAS Contamination at Fort Leavenworth Army Base, Kansas, drinking water supply wells indicated very high combined PFAS results, with two wells testing 649 and 159 ppt. 2019 sampling data from drinking water well PWW-08 established a combined PFOS and PFOA concentration of 1,790 ng/L. During the 2016 sampling, the treated drinking water at the installation had a combined PFOA/PFOS of 98ppt.

PFAS are a group of fluorocarbons associated with various health problems. Studies link PFAS, such as PFOA and PFOS, with fertility problems, poor vaccine response, lowered immunity, kidney cancer, testicular cancer, liver problems, and thyroid disease. Even the slightest exposure to these toxins can lead to adverse health conditions. As a result, the EPA set even lower lifetime health advisory limits of 0.004 for PFOA and 0.002 ppt for PFOS.

Fort Leavenworth Army Base is one of the country’s oldest Amry bases, with operations dating back to 1827. The base is located to the West of the Mississippi River. It has about 5,383 active duty, 90 international officers, 5,200 family members, and 2150 civilians working with the Department of Army. The US Army Combined Arms Center (USA CAC), located at Fort Leavenworth, has six core functions: functional training, leader development and education, collective training, doctrine, training support, and lessons learned.

Soldiers, families, and civilians who lived at the Fort Leavenworth Army Base have been exposed to high levels of PFAS  through contaminated drinking water. You could be liable for compensation if you or a loved one lived at the Fort Leavenworth Army Base and was later diagnosed with a PFAS-related illness. Stephens and Stephens LLP are investigating cases of PFAS exposure at military bases. Contact Hugh Stephens for a free case evaluation.

PFAS in contaminated water originated from PFAS-based AFFF, which has been used in Army installations since the 1970s. While PFAS-AFFF effectively puts out high heat-intensive flames, the PFAS contained in it remains in the environment for many years (over 1,000 years) without breaking down. Also, when ingested, these compounds build up in the body, taking eight to nine years to be removed entirely.

Investigations on PFAS Contamination at Fort Leavenworth Army Base, Kansas

PFAS at US Army facilities is linked to using aqueous film-forming foams (AFFF) and chromium plating. However, Fort Leavenworth Army Base did not report any chromium plating activities. The primary source AFFF release areas include firefighter training areas, fire stations, nozzle testing and tank flushing areas, crash sites, fuel fire response sites, hangars, and buildings with AFFF suppression systems.

Other potential sources of PFAS release at Army Bases include some types of pesticides, laundering or water-proofing facilities, car washes or engine lubricants, and photo-processing facilities. However, PFAS release from such activities is less significant.

The primary media PFOS and PFOA releases are soil, groundwater, surface water, and sediment. Once released into the environment, PFAS leached through the ground into underground water,  which has been used at the base for drinking for decades. Food grown on PFAS-contaminated soil and fish harvested from PFAS-contaminated water may not be fit for consumption.

Arcadis U.S., Inc. conducted preliminary assessments (PAs) and site inspections (SIs) on the use of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) with particular focus on perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). The investigation followed processes established by the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) of 1980.

Based on the PFAS sources identified by the investigation, the main areas of interest established include two former firefighter training areas (FTL-10 and FTL-11), a historical landfill (FTL-09), and a former fire station (FTL-FFS, where crash truck nozzle testing and tank flushing were conducted.

During the first phase of the site investigation, groundwater and soil samples from the former firefighting training areas and the former fire station contained high levels of combined PFOS and PFOA.

Groundwater samples from the former fire station had the highest PFAS of combined PFOS and PFOA of 155,100 ng/L. Soil samples collected (2ft below the ground surface) at a former fire fighting training area (FTL-11) had the highest PFas of combined PFOS and PFOA of 1,000 nanograms per gram (ng/g). Surface water and sediment downgradient of FTL-09 had combined PFOA and PFOS levels of 40 ng/L and 9.6 ng/g, respectively.

Site investigation phase two identified PFAS transport pathways between both source areas: a former fire station (FTL-FFS) and a former firefighting training area (FTL-11), and the drinking water supply wells.

Groundwater exposure pathways for off-post receptors are incomplete based on the non-detect sample results from United States Geological Survey (USGS) monitoring wells USGS-4 and – 7, located across the Missouri River from the Weston Bend and the AOPIs.

The 2016 Fort Leavenworth PFAS sampling at portable wells PWW-08 and PWW-09 was conducted between July and November. The tests confirmed the presence of combined PFOA and PFOS of 149 ng/L to 649 ng/L at PWW-08 and 77 ng/L to 161 ng/L at PWW-09. Also, PFAS tests conducted at the Weston Bend potable water supply wells were consistently greater than 70 ng/L.

Fort Leavenworth’s five water supply wells and portable well PWW-08 have constantly tested for PFOS/PFOA above the HAL of 70 ng/L during multiple sampling. The lowest PFAS concentrations were observed at portable well PWW-05, whose combined PFOA and PFOS concentration was 6.24 ng/L in March 2017 and 92 ng/L in October 2017. Portable well PWW-08 constantly had the highest PFAS concentrations of 149 ng/L in the November 2016 sampling and 1,790 ng/L in January 2019.

Some groundwater monitoring wells sampled in December 2017 showed PFAS levels exceeding 70 ng/L. These included monitoring wells FTL-10-MW-15 with 1,670 ng/L combined PFOS and PFOA and FTL-57-Unk with 77 ng/L combined PFOS and PFOA.

Water supply from all the wells with PFAS exceeding 70 ng/L was taken down between December 2016 and January 2017. From January 2018 to April 2022, the base received drinking water from the Leavenworth Waterworks (the local municipal water).

The Army base installed a water treatment system with a granular activated carbon (GAC) filter to remove PFAS from the drinking water. The water treatment system became operational in  May 2022 and has provided drinking water with undetectable PFAS levels.

Those exposed to PFAS in drinking water at Fort Leavenworth include the installation personnel and families, military prisoners confined in the USDB, visitors, and contractors. People affected by PFAS exposure at military bases are filing lawsuits against the PFAS-AFFF manufacturers. Contact Hugh Stephens if you or a loved one was diagnosed with a PFAS-related illness after living at Fort Leavenworth.

About United States Army Combined Arms Center and Fort Leavenworth

The 5,643-acre facility is located in Leavenworth County, Kansas, at the banks of the Missouri River and 25 miles from the Kansas City metropolitan area. The Army Base was established in 1827 and is one of the oldest operating Army installations in the region. It has different units, including the Command and General Staff College, the National Simulation Center, the US Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) Analysis Center, and the US Disciplinary Barracks (USDB). The army base mission is to support the TRADOC in training officers for command, and staff work through the Command and General Staff College and battle command training program. It is also a long-term confinement of military prisoners in the USDB. Other operations are coordination of combined arms, collective training, and the National Simulation Center.

The use and storage of AFFF at Fort Leavenworth

Before 1993, Fort Leavenworth stored AFFF  in the former fire station #1 (FTL-FFS) basement, and about 15 gallons were kept in the SAAF hangar in containers. There were no accidental spills recorded in the history of these two storage areas. Since 2010, the base always retained a few gallons of Chemguard 3% C301MS AFFF Building 305, and no accidental spills have been reported. Also, Chemguard MS C301 3%

AFFF is currently stored in four fire trucks at the installation. The foam in the fire trucks was purchased in 2014 to replace Cold Fire foam. Over the years, the facility conducted fire truck foam tanks nozzle testing annually, but this has now changed to at least every five years to prevent non-essential AFFF release.

Before 2012, the filling of crash truck tanks with AFFF occurred at Fire Station #2 (Building 708) through pumping by hand or direct pouring. AFFF was also drained from truck tanks, pumped into reclamation barrels, and turned into the Directorate of Public Works.

Investigators also discovered a five-gallon container of Ansulite 3% AFFF with a manufacture date of April 1983 in the basement of Boiler Building 121. There was no information available about this particular storage.

Between the 1960s and 1980s, AFFF was used during fire training activities at FTL-10  and FTL-11 from 1980 to 1989. Nozzle testing and tank flushing were conducted at FTL-FFS until 1993 when the station was moved to higher ground. There are no known post-fire responses.

In the early 1980s, soil was excavated from the FTL-10 area and buried at landfill FTL-09 to address petroleum, oil, and lubricants (POL) constituents. This soil is believed to have contained AFFF released during firefighting training in the area.

PFAS Contamination at Fort Leavenworth Army Base, Kansas, Exposure pathways

Fort Leavenworth obtained drinking water from five potable water supply wells located in Weston Bend, downgradient of the four identified Areas of AFFF release. The groundwater exposure pathways for on-post receptors are considered potentially complete because the Areas of AFFF release are upgradient of the installation’s drinking water wells.

The surface water exposure pathways to on-post receptors are incomplete because they are not likely to be used for potable water supply at the installation. However, communities downstream of the facility use the Missouri River surface water for potable water supply. In this case, the surface water exposure pathways for off-post receptors are potentially complete.

File PFAS Contamination at Fort Leavenworth Army Base, Kansas Lawsuit

Military, families, and civilians affected by PFAS in drinking water at military installations nationwide are filing lawsuits against AFFF manufacturers seeking compensation for financial and non-financial losses. The manufacturers acted in negligence and failed to warn the government and public about the effects of their product. Their actions and failure to act have affected the health of millions of people.

In June 2023, the leading AFFF manufacturer, 3M, is paying $10.3 Billion over 13 years to settle water contamination cases filed by municipalities. Contact Hugh Stephens if you suffer from a PFAS-related illness after living at Fort Leavenworth or any other military Base in the US. Our fees are contingency-based.

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