PFAS Contamination at Picatinny Arsenal Army BaseOctober 11, 2023
PFAS at Yakima Training Centre, WashingtonOctober 11, 2023
Vint Hill PFAS Contamination is still disturbing as of October 2023, with unremedied PFOS and PFOA. In 2021, DoD PFAS investigations at Army Virginia Vint Hill Farms reported PFOS contaminations of 410ppt and PFOA of 1,200ppt in drinking water supplies. Groundwater samples analyzed indicated PFOS levels of 450ppt and PFOA of 1,300ppt.
Vint Hill, formerly a US Army Base, is home to about 380 residents and businesses. It is located in Fauquier County, ten miles northeast of Warrenton, Virginia. Vint Hill was formerly a farm owned by Mitchell Harrison, which the US Army purchased in 1940 and transformed into a secret spying station. The base was operational through the Cold War until 1997, when it fully closed down and was handed over for public use. About 2,000 military and civilians worked at the Vint Hill Farms station. The former Army Base operations included cryptanalysts and radio operators training.
EPA PFOA/PFOS regulation
In May 2016, the EPA issued a drinking water Lifetime Health Advisory (LHA) of 70ppt for PFOA and PFOS, which they recently reviewed to 0.02 ppt for PFOS and 0.004 ppt for PFOA. However, these EPA limits are not enforceable. In August 2016, the US Department of Defense implemented a comprehensive PFOS/PFOA management approach to manage PFAS exposure through nationwide drinking water at Military bases. Under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), the strategy involves various investigation and remediation steps. It starts by reviewing potential PFOS/PFOA release areas where AFFF was stored and used, assesses the PFAS in surface water, groundwater, sediment, and soil, and embarks on remedial activities.
Drinking water supplies at Vint Hill
Buckland Water and Sanitation Assets Corporation owns and operates the Vint Hill drinking Public water system drawn from groundwater wells at the former base. Vint Hill Farm Station had four water production wells situated in fractured bedrock. They include: Vint Hill Well #1, which is 450 ft deep; Vint Hill Well #1A about 480 ft deep); Vint Hill Well #3 with a depth of 450 ft; and Vint Hill Well #4 with a depth of 624 ft.
Vint Hill drinking water is regularly monitored by the Virginia Department of Health. The water is treated with five gallons of hypochlorite solution daily and up to 5.00 ppm of a phosphate solution for sediment and color. According to the Virginia Source Water Assessment Program, the wells from which the water is drawn have been established to be highly susceptible to contamination. Despite various samples confirming the presence of PFAS exceeding the EPA’s LHA limits in Vint Hill drinking water supplies, no action has been taken to address the problem.
Veterans and Families are Victims of Vint Hill PFAS Contamination
Military members, families, and civilians who lived at the base before its closure and current residents have been exposed to PFAS in drinking water. According to ATSRD, exposure to PFAS, such as PFOA and PFOS, increases the risk of certain illnesses and health conditions, including reduced response to vaccines, reduced immunity, high cholesterol, pregnancy complications, testicular, kidney, thyroid, and liver problems, and cancer.
PFAS contamination at military installations across the country is due to the use of PFAS-based AFFF, which the DoD has been using to put out fuel and chemical fires. AFFF was released to the environment at Vint Hill during firefighting training activities, emergency fire response, fire equipment testing, and accidental spills. Once released to the environment, the PFAS leach through the ground into the soil, surface water, and groundwater sources. PFAS exposure can occur through contact with skin, inhalation, and ingesting contaminated water and foods grown in contaminated medium. These compounds do not degenerate naturally and may take over 1,000 years to break down entirely. They also take up to nine years to be entirely removed from the human body. As a result, they accumulate over time with increased exposure.
Stephens and Stephens LLP are investigating cases of PFAS exposure at current and former military installations. You could be eligible for compensation if you or a loved one suffered from a PFAS-related illness after living at Vint Hill. Contact Hugh Stephens for a free case evaluation.
Investigation of Vint Hill PFAS Contamination
The military at Vint Hill used burn pits for AFFF firefighting training activities. These burn pits allowed the compounds to leach through the ground and are still present in groundwater samples even after the army base seized operations at the base in 1997. PFOS and PFOA levels 300 times higher than the EPA advisory limits have been confirmed in on and off-base groundwater sources. In 2016, the Department of Defense reported PFOA contamination levels of 1200ppt in Vint Hill drinking water supplies. Tests done after 2016 established even higher PFAS levels in Vint Hill water supplies.
2021 DoD drinking water sampling at Vint Hill showed a PFOS concentration of 410ppt and PFOA of 1,200ppt. Vint Hill PFAS Contamination groundwater sampling established PFOS concentrations of 450 ppt and PFOA of 1,300 ppt. Another off-base groundwater sampling conducted in February 2023 showed a combined PFOA/PFOS of 50 ppt. There are limited reports on the levels of PFAS at different groundwater wells on and off base. Also, Fauquier County Water and Sewer Authority, which manages most public water systems, does not include PFAS sampling in its annual water quality reports.
Buckland Water and Sanitation Assets Corporation, contracted to provide VInt Hill water services, hires a third party to test the water for PFAS. However, they do not share the sampling results with the public, although they maintain that the PFAS levels are below the EPA’s 2016 advisory limit of 70ppt.
Vint Hill Waterworks conducts annual PFAS sampling at Vint Hill, but they don’t share the results with the Virginia Department of Health. Some sources report that eleven wells on base tested positive for PFAS. Four groundwater wells that indicated PFAS presence are connected to the public waterworks.
Vint Hill surface water also tested positive for PFAS. The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality reported PFAS in South Run, which flows through Vint Hill Farms. The State Health Department began a PFAS investigation involving seven waterworks in Fauquier County, and the results are expected to be released in October.
PFAS and AFFF
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are compounds with unique chemical properties invented in the 1940s. These compounds do not break down even under intense heat and are resistant to water, oil, and grease. As a result, they are used in making nonstick cookware, stain-resistant and water-repellant fabrics, and cosmetics.
The US Navy invented PFAS-based AFFF in 1966, and 3M Company was contracted to produce it. In the 1970s, the US Department of Defense began using firefighting foam in all its installations.
AFFF combines fluorocarbons, surfactants, and solubilizers. The fluorochemical surfactant allows AFFF to form an aqueous film on the surface of the hydrocarbon fuel by reducing the surface tension of water. As a result, it suppresses vapors, cuts off the oxygen supply, and prevents evaporation and subsequent reignition of the flame. Although AFFF effectively put out fuel and chemical fires, their long-term effects led to the phasing out of the PFAS-based AFFF in the US. The PFAS-AFFF can only be used for emergencies.
The US DoD is the largest consumer of AFFF, taking up 75% of the market. Municipal fire departments come second, taking 13% of AFFF consumption, and petroleum processors third at 5%.
The phased-out AFFF contained Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorobutane sulfonic acid (PFOS), among other PFAS. These two compounds are linked to adverse health effects. The health effects of other PFAS are still being researched, with most related to cancer.
Vint Hill PFAS Contamination Lawsuits
Studies have shown an increase in certain types of cancer among veterans and military members. A recent study established that aircrew had a 24% higher risk of developing cancer and an 87% higher rate of melanoma. Aircrew men had a 16% higher risk of prostate cancer, and women had a 16% rate of breast cancer.
Thousands of military members were exposed to PFAS in contaminated drinking water at military bases nationwide and later developed health conditions linked to PFAS are filing lawsuits against the leading AFFF manufacturers, including 3M, DuPont, Chemours, Tyco Fire Products, ChemDesign Inc, Chemguard Inc, Clariant Corporation, Kidde-Fenwal Inc., AGC Chemicals Americas, Corteva, Arkema, Dynax Corporation and UTC Fire & Security Americas Corporation.
You can file a PFAS-AFFF lawsuit for compensation if you or a loved one suffers from a PFAS illness or condition after living at a military base where PFAS-based AFFF was used. Contact Hugh Stephens for a free consultation. Our fees are contingency-based.