Wright-Patterson seeks public’s input on PFAS chemicals removal plan

Comments are due May 20.

Credit: (U.S. Air Force photo by Wesley

Credit: (U.S. Air Force photo by Wesley

The Air Force is inviting the public to comment on a plan to address hazardous chemicals at former firefighting training areas on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

The use of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) chemicals at Wright-Patterson and other Air Force bases has been in the public eye for years, and the base’s use of such substances is the subject of a city of Dayton lawsuit against Wright-Patterson and the Air Force.

The base seeks public comments on a proposed “engineering evaluation/cost analysis” of a “non-time critical removal action” on the base. Public comments are due May 20.

In March, the Air Force said it had shut down aqueous fire fighting foam or “AFFF” fire suppression systems at 1,038 facilities out of 1,095 that used the foam. Such fire suppression systems were locked out at Wright-Patterson as of March 1, a spokeswoman for the 88th Air Base Wing said at the time. The wing is responsible for the base’s infrastructure and security.

Some AFFF formulations contain PFAS substances, a class of chemicals that have been widely used for decades in consumer applications but have been more recently linked to health hazards, including cancer.

The City of Dayton filed a lawsuit against Wright-Patterson and the Department of Defense in May 2021. Two years after it was first filed, the city of Dayton’s $300 million lawsuit over so-called “forever chemicals” sits in legal limbo, blended with thousands of similar lawsuits under a single federal court master docket. It remains unclear what the next steps in the lawsuit may be.

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The recent proposed action at Wright-Patterson is meant to address the presence of PFAS constituent chemicals “that are migrating via groundwater to surface water” from an aqueous film-forming foam spill site on the base, according to a notice on a base web site.

The “preferred” treatment option consists of capturing groundwater at the site and treating the captured water using passive basins. The basins would use a “biologically active sand filter reed bed” and “organoclay with a granular activated carbon polishing phase” to treat the water, the public notice says.

The notice says that treated water would be discharged to the Mad River. “System discharge of treated water will be achieved under current OEPA NPDES discharge permit to the Mad River,” the notice says.

“Although this is the preferred alternative at the present time, the DAF (Department of the Air Force) welcomes the public’s comments on all of the alternatives listed in the EE/CA (engineering evaluation/cost analysis),” the notice says. “The comment period ends on May 20, 2023. The DAF will finalize the selected remedy after the comment period ends and may select any of the alternatives after considering all stakeholders inputs.”

The notice may be found online at wpafb.af.mil/Units/cev1/. The comment period opened April 21 and ends May 20.

Comments may be sent to: 88th Air Base Wing Public Affairs 5135 Pearson Road, Building 10, Room 253A, WPAFB, OH 45433. The phone number to call is (937) 522-3252.

E-mails may also be sent to 88abw.pa@us.af.mil.

Questions about the plan were sent to a representative of the 88th Air Base Wing Wednesday.

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