Expanded site inspection completed at 167th Airlift Wing

  • Published

An Expanded Site Inspection (ESI) for Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS) at the 167th Airlift Wing and surrounding areas was completed in September, resulting in a recommendation for further investigation.

Drilling for the ESI began in September 2019 to test for PFOS and PFOA, man-made chemicals found in Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF) previously used to combat petroleum-based fires at the Martinsburg, W.Va. Air National Guard (ANG) base.

The ESI was conducted to augment data collected in a previous site inspection, to determine if up-gradient sources are contributing to PFOA and PFOS mass in groundwater, and to assess potential migration pathways from the base to down-gradient receptors which include public water supply wells.

Soil borings, surface soil, surface water, ground water and storm water were sampled at various on-base and off-base locations as part of the ESI which, in part, concluded:

  • PFOA and PFOS was detected in groundwater sampled on-base but was not detected in groundwater sampled off-base.
  • PFOA and PFOS was detected in surface water samples at on-base and off-base locations.
  • PFOS was detected in sediment at one on-base location.

Parsons, contracted by the Restoration Branch of the Air National Guard Readiness Center to conduct the inspection, determined additional studies would be needed to conclusively define the presence or absence of migration pathways between the base and down-gradient receptors.

“The City of Martinsburg acted early and mitigated PFOA and PFOS concerns with a filtration system for the drinking water,” said Maj. Blake Bennett, the environmental manager for the 167th Civil Engineering Squadron. “However, we’re going to continue working with our ANG environmental restoration team as we move through the CERCLA (Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Recovery Liability Act) process. Based on that process, our next step will be a remedial investigation which will be a multi-year effort,” he said.

The Environmental Protection Agency established a lifetime health advisory level of 70 parts per trillion for PFOA and PFOS in 2016, prompting the temporary shut-down of the Big Springs Water Treatment Facility in Martinsburg, which pulls water from the Big Springs Deep Well. In response, the City of Martinsburg purchased and installed a granular activated carbon filtration system at the facility to remove the contaminants from the water. In June 2019, the U.S. Air Force reimbursed the City of Martinsburg for nearly $5 million for the cost of the filtration system.

The legacy AFFF, last used at the 167th in 2011 when an aircraft crashed during an air show, has since been replaced with a new, more environmentally responsible formula that contains no PFOS and only trace amounts of PFOA.

The ESI report with full inspection results can be found at: https://ar.afcec-cloud.af.mil/Search.aspx

For more information: https://www.afcec.af.mil/WhatWeDo/Environment/Perfluorinated-Compounds/