The U.S. Army conducted testing of 23 drinking water wells on private properties near Fort Riley’s Marshall Army Airfield in October and December and found one well with concentrations of two compounds that exceed the Environmental Protection Agency’s Lifetime Health Advisory levels.
The testing looked for concentrations of Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS), which are part of a larger group of chemical compounds known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances or PFAS. The Environmental Protection Agency issued a health advisory establishing a threshold concentration of PFOA and PFOS for drinking water of 70 parts per trillion.
One well showed concentrations of PFOA and PFOS combined of 128 parts per trillion, which is above the EPA’s lifetime health advisory threshold. The property owner and resident at that location have been notified and the Army is providing bottled water to the resident for drinking and cooking. The Army, in conjunction with the EPA and Kansas Department of Health and Environment, will also seek a long-term remedy.
With the cooperation of property owners, the Army’s contractor, Arcadis, sampled and tested drinking water from 23 wells. All results were shared with the Environmental Protection Agency, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, and the individual well owners.
No other wells sampled showed PFOA/PFOS concentrations above the 70 parts per trillion guideline. Three of these wells, all serving private residences, showed levels above zero, with the highest being 19 parts per trillion. All other wells showed no traces of PFOA or PFOS.
PFAS are present in aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF), a critical firefighting agent used to quickly suppress petroleum fires at airports. AFFF has been used at Fort Riley. PFAS are also found in many everyday products, such as food packaging, cookware, carpet protectants, and waterproofing chemicals.
Fort Riley is following the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) process to identify the source of the PFOA and PFOS in the groundwater and take appropriate action. The Army assesses if past activities may have resulted in a release and the potential for human exposure, and takes action to protect human health and the environment, as necessary. Further CERCLA actions are prioritized and sequenced based on risk.
Fort Riley’s drinking water supply has been tested since 2013 for PFOA and PFOS with the highest concentration found being 11 parts per trillion.
For more information, visit https://home.army.mil/riley/index.php/about/dir-staff/dpw/env-div/pfas.