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Victims of PFAS Contamination at Wright-Patterson are filing lawsuits against the toxic AFFF manufacturing companies. Stephens and Stephens LLP are investigating airforce water contamination cases countywide on a contingency basis. Reach out to us for a free case evaluation.

Per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of synthetic chemicals used for different industrial purposes, including the production of AFFF and plastics, among others. Some of the most common PFAS include perfluorooctanoic acid, (PFOA), perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS), perfluorohexane sulfonic acid (PFHxS), perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA), perfluorodecanoic acid (PFDA), perfluoroundecanoic acid (PFUnA), and N-methyl perfluorooctanesulfonamidoacetic acid (MeFOSAA).

PFAS are known as forever chemicals due to their ability to remain in the environment without breaking down. Human exposure to PFAS is linked to illnesses like cancer, kidney diseases, liver problems, infertility, and congenital disabilities. The human body cannot break down or eliminate these toxins; thus, they will accumulate with continued exposure. Once released into the air, they get into the soil and water, from where they get into the food chain.

The Air Force and Air National Guard bases have used PFAS-based aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) since the 1970s for training and emergency response. In these locations, the foam made its way to the environment, contaminating the soil and groundwater. PFAS from AFFF released in air force bases also migrate through the air and soil into nearby water supplies and municipal and private wells.

About the WPAFB

Wright-Patterson Air Force Base is an active air force base located in Greene and Montgomery Counties, southwestern Ohio, east of Dayton City and adjacent to Fairborn City. It dates back to World War I in 1917. The 8,200 acre Base is home to 26,000 civilian, military, and contractor personnel. Generally, the Base is used for industrial, research, and development activities. The base operations include defense-related activities such as acquisition and logistics management, research and development, education, and flight operations.

It has two administrative areas (A and B), separated by railroad tracks and State Route 444. Area A is approximately 5,700 acres and surrounds the Patterson USAF active airfield. It has building complexes, flight facilities, and active runways. The WPAFB area A is used for various activities, including aircraft and vehicle fueling, aircraft and vehicle maintenance, runway and aircraft deicing, munitions and explosive ordnance disposal, warehousing and storage, small arms training, steam and electrical generation, general site maintenance, miscellaneous disposal, office operations, and classroom instruction.

Area B is approximately 2,400 acres, and it contains Wright’s inactive airfield, infrequently used for special occasions such as the Air Force Museum aircraft activities. It contains building complexes for research and development, training, and administrative activities.

Groundwater at WPAFB occurs at different elevations and depths due to the region’s aquifer types and surrounding recharge areas. The aquifer types in the region include water table aquifers occurring in coarse-grained deposits frequent in valley locations and hill region till deposits. Groundwater is also found in bedrock and semi-confined aquifers, but bedrock is not viable aquifers. The Base extraction and monitoring wells have different depths ranging from 3ft to 100 ft bgs.

Testing of PFAS Contamination at Wright-Patterson

The Air Force Base Civil Engineer conducted four quarterly sampling of PFAS Contamination at Wright-Patterson under the long-term monitoring program at specific areas, including Area A and IRP sites within OU3 and OU10. Area A well operations continued with the installation of a treatment unit.

WPAFB well water sampling for PFOS/PFOA was conducted in June 2016 as part of the long-term monitoring program. Due to the high levels of these toxins, the Base was put up a quarterly PFOS/PFOA sampling program, which continued until November 2017. The program was followed by a USACE PFAS Investigation, which began in 2018. The two programs were conducted from winter 2017 to summer 2019, but the seasonal differences did not establish any concentration deviation.

Between June 2016 and November 2017, the long-term monitoring program involved quarterly groundwater PFAS sampling of 16 FAA-A monitoring wells. According to the initial quarterly results of February 2017, only well CW08-085 had PFOA and PFOS concentrations of 75.2ppt (exceeding the HAL of 70ppt). Sampling results from the remaining three quarters were below 70ppt.

The testing of PFAS Contamination at Wright-Patterson was based on the previous USEPA HAL of 70ppt. During the long-term monitoring program, PFOS and PFOA concentrations exceeding the HAL of  70ppt were detected in the OU3 FTAs 2, 3, 4, and 5, OU5 downgradient of LF5 and OU10 at the fire training exercise areas. In most wells with high PFOA and PFOS, the PFOS concentration was higher than that of PFOA. Wells with higher PFOA concentrations include CW08-085 and GR-421. The concentrations of these two compounds were equal at OU10-MW-21S. High PFOS/PFOA levels were also detected in WPAFB Area A drinking water wells.

The site investigation report detected high PFOS/PFOA concentrations exceeding the USEPA HAL of 70ppt in 20 areas. It recommended an expanded site investigation to evaluate areas of potential interest at the AFFF fire training sites in the facility possibly affected by PFAS.

Further groundwater testing was conducted to investigate potential PFAS migration over the southwestern WPAFB boundary toward the City of Dayton wellfield. The US Army Corps of Engineers conducted the sampling (USACE) PFAS investigation contract. The investigation occurred in eight FAA-A monitoring wells over six quarters from March 2018 to June 2019. The results revealed PFOS/PFOA levels below the former HAL limit, with the highest PFOA and PFOS concentration being 30 ng/L from samples taken from well CW08- 085.

A summary of events related to the investigation, management, and remediation of Wright-Patterson PFAS contamination:

The EPA Drinking Water PFOA and PFOS Advisory

In June 2022, the EPA updated the drinking water Lifetime Health Advisory (LHA) to PFOA levels of 0.004 ppt and PFOS of 0.002 from the 2016 LHA levels of 70 ppt. The new advisory is based on new research considering lifetime exposure, which established that even PFOA and PFOS levels close to zero could have adverse effects.

The Air Force looks to LHA guidelines to determine whether drinking water is safe. However, the EPA criteria is not enforceable. The first round of groundwater sampling at the installation occurred as a part of an Air Force-wide PFOA and PFOS initiative. The sampling began in June 2016. Quarterly sampling at select boundary wells continued with AFFF Area Site Inspection completed in 2017 and the Expanded Site Inspection in 2019.

Remediation of PFAS Contamination at Wright-Patterson

Remedial Investigation (RI) was carried out at AFFF Sites. It involved collecting data, characterization of site conditions, determining the extent of PFOS/PFOA, identifying potential exposure pathways, and collecting data to support risk assessment for human health and the environment. This investigation involved 16 AFFF sites and was intended to evaluate them for possible remediation. It entailed 100 (75% of the monitoring wells) and 52 soil boring. One hundred forty-six groundwater samples were collected from 46 new and existing wells and sampled twice. Over 372 soil samples, 116 surface water and sediment samples, and 18 lysimeter samples were also sampled four times each.

The Air Force is proactively working toward preventing future PFAS exposure by limiting PFAS-based AFFF to emergency use. They replaced the toxic foam with Phos-Chek 3 percent, six-carbon chain AFFF. Additionally, they prevent foam release by installing auto mechanisms for testing the fire vehicle’s functionality, which doesn’t involve releasing the foam into the environment. They also standardized the hangar systems and replaced those containing the PFAS-based foam. Firefighting training is now carried out in double-lined pits to safeguard against the impacts on the ground, and any uncontained AFFF release is treated as if it were a hazardous material.

PFAS Contamination at Wright-Patterson Attorney

If you or your loved one suffered from PFAS-related illnesses after taking AFFF-contaminated water, you could be eligible for compensation. Contact R. Hugh Stephens, Esq. of Stephens & Stephens, PLLC for a free case evaluation. Those eligible include military, contract employees, and civilians who lived in military and airforce bases where AFFF was used, and site inspection reports identify the presence of these toxins in drinking water.

Defendants in these lawsuits include companies producing PFAS-based AFFF, such as 3M, DuPont, Chemguard, Chemours Company, Tyco fire products, and National Foam. Victims of PFAS Contamination at Wright-Patterson cannot file lawsuits against the DoD because the US military is immune from all forms of litigation.


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