A preliminary assessment was conducted in August 2015 at the 167th AW to identify potential sites of historic environmental releases of perfluorinated compounds, specifically from AFFF usage and storage. Ten locations on the 167th AW installation were recommended for testing.
On May 19, 2016, the EPA established lifetime health advisory levels of 70 parts per trillion for combined concentrations of PFOS and PFOA. This advisory prompted the City of Martinsburg to temporarily discontinue use of the Big Springs Deep Well and shut down the Big Springs Water Filtration Plant. The Big Springs Deep Well and Big Springs Water Filtration Plant are located approximately one mile north of the 167th AW.
The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection conducted a study of the contamination of the Big Springs Filtration Plant in June 2016. Surface and groundwater samplings were taken at numerous locations around the plant and the 167th AW. The WVDEP concluded the 167th AW to be the largest and most probable source of the Big Springs Deep Well contamination.
A site inspection was conducted at the 167th AW in the fall of 2017 to test the 10 locations previously identified in the preliminary assessment. The final report from the site inspection showed exceedances above the lifetime health advisory level at 8 of the 10 of the release sites tested. An Expanded Site Inspection was recommended.
The City of Martinsburg installed a granular activated carbon filtration system at the Big Springs Water Treatment Facility to remove PFOS/PFOA and resumed water treatment at the plant in December 2017.
A kick-off meeting for the Expanded Site Inspection was held at the 167th AW in October 2018 and drilling began in September 2019. The inspection concluded in December 2020 with a recommendation for further investigation.
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.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry announced in February 2019 that Berkeley County, W.Va., is one of eight sites selected for a PFAS exposure assessment. View the PFAS Exposure Assessment Factsheet for more information.
The City of Martinsburg and the U.S. Air Force completed and intergovernmental agreement for the reimbursement of $4,915,628 to the City of Martinsburg for the treatment of PFAS in drinking water in May 2019.
The CDC/ATSDR exposure assessment summary results for Berkeley County were released in May 2020. The full PFAS exposure assement report was released in January 2022. View the Berkeley County, WV PFAS Exposure Assessment Report.
Remedial Investigation kick-off meeting was held in October 2021 and fieldwork began in November 2022. The RI is expected to be a multi-year process.