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PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE
PANAMA CITY, BAY COUNTY, FLORIDA


SUMMARY

Tyndall Air Force Base (TAFB) is an active United States Air Force base located in Bay County, Florida, approximately 1 mile southeast of Panama City, Florida.

TAFB was listed on the EPA National Priorities List for Uncontrolled Hazardous Waste Sites (NPL) in April 1997, effective May 1997, as a result of pesticides found in sediment in Fred Bayou (also known as Shoal Point Bayou, Site No.OT029, or IRP Site 29). TAFB is currently investigating and conducting a cleanup of contaminated areas in cooperation with EPA and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), located in Atlanta, Georgia, is a federal agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. ATSDR conducts public health assessments for sites the EPA has listed on the NPL. In response to the listing of TAFB on the NPL list, ATSDR evaluated the public health significance of environmental contamination at the base. For this evaluation, ATSDR conducted a site visit in January 1997 and evaluated the available environmental information. Based on this review, ATSDR has identified and evaluated the following four potential exposure situations. This evaluation is summarized below by exposure situations and ATSDR's public health conclusion categories.

No Apparent Public Health Hazard

  • Exposure to DDT-contaminated fish in Fred Bayou (past, present, and future)

  • Exposure to lead in soils at the Tyndall Elementary School (past, present and future)

  • Past exposure to lead in tap water at 2451 Lincoln Drive in the Bay View Housing area

Indeterminate Public Health Hazard

  • Potential exposure to contaminated surface soils or soil gas from Wherry Landfill at the Bay View Housing area.

These exposures are discussed in detail in this report. To summarize, ATSDR assigned the category of "No Apparent Public Health Hazard" to past, current and future exposure to DDT in fish and to lead in soils at the school because concentrations and expected exposure durations were below levels of health concern. Similarly, past exposure to lead in tap water in the Lincoln Drive home was classified as "No Apparent Public Health Hazard" because the concentrations of lead and the exposure durations involved were below levels likely to result in adverse health effects.

Exposure to contaminated surface soils or soil gas from Wherry Landfill at the Bay View Housing area is classified as an indeterminate public health hazard for past exposures, because limitations of the sampling prevent ATSDR from making a definitive conclusion about exposure to volatile and semivolatile organic compounds in the soils. For this potential exposure, ATSDR recommends an explanation of the landfill boundaries, soil gas sampling, and additional groundwater level readings. Potential current and future exposure have been reduced significantly and possibly eliminated because many of the houses adjacent to the landfill have been vacated awaiting demolition. The entire Bay View Housing area is scheduled for closure by 2008 because the area will be used as a natural buffer zone for the runway.


BACKGROUND

This public health assessment (PHA) evaluates the public health significance resulting from environmental contamination at Tyndall Air Force Base (TAFB). TAFB is an active United States Air Force base installation located in Bay County, Florida, approximately 1 mile southeast of Panama City, Florida. The base covers about 28,800 acres on a narrow 18-mile long peninsula connected to land on its southeastern boundary. TAFB is bordered by East Bay to the northeast, St. Andrew Bay to the northwest, and St. Andrew Bay and the Gulf of Mexico to the south and southeast (See Figure 1). TAFB is connected to the Panama City area by the Dupont Bridge via Highway 98.

TAFB also owns or leases six off-base properties comprising an additional 285 acres. These areas are currently used for housing and radio antennas. One of these areas was formerly used as a fuel tank farm. Soil and groundwater fuel contamination at this tank farm are currently being cleaned up.

Adjacent to or across the bays from TAFB, land is used for varied purposes. Across East Bay and St. Andrew Bay, land is used for heavy industrial, commercial, and residential purposes while land adjacent to the southeast is used for light industrial and commercial purposes. Across St. Andrew Bay, approximately 0.75 miles to the north of TAFB, are two abandoned hazardous waste sites known as Gulf Oil Company and Southwest Forest Products. Also nearby and across the Dupont Bridge are the Stone Container Corporation, a paper mill, and the Arizona Chemical Company. Information on the demographic make-up of the base and surrounding community is provided in Figure 1.

U.S. Highway 98 bisects the base with the air field and industrial operations north of the highway. Administrative and residential areas are to the south of the highway.

TAFB was activated in 1941 as a flexible gunnery school for the Army Air Corps and, beginning in 1946, it was an air tactical training school. In 1950, TAFB was transferred from the Air Training Command to the Aerospace Defense Command, and the mission changed to focus on weapons training and system evaluation as well as tactics, techniques, equipment testing, and tactical air defense.

In 1979, TAFB was assigned to the Tactical Air Command. The 325th Tactical Training Wing was established at TAFB in 1981 for the training and evaluation of personnel and weapons. TAFB was assigned to the Air Education and Training Command in 1993 (CH2M Hill 1981, Black & Veatch 1996, Booz Allen & Hamilton 1996)

TAFB is a work place for military personnel and civilians and a home for military personnel and their dependents. As of September 1997, approximately 4,400 military personnel and 2,000 civilians work at TAFB. Approximately 3,000 military personnel and their family members live on-base in 1,078 houses not including group quarters such as dormitories.

Industrial Operations.

TAFB has conducted a variety of industrial operations for maintenance of aircraft used in training, for the base infrastructure, and for the living quarters. These activities have included:

  • Minor aircraft and vehicle maintenance, repair and painting including aircraft corrosion control, paint stripping, and cleaning of planes and components

  • Construction and maintenance of buildings, roads, and runways

  • Development and testing of rapid runway repair materials

  • Fire training

  • Wastewater treatment

  • Explosive ordnance testing and disposal (CH2M Hill 1981).

TAFB has generated 20 to 1,000 gallons per year of hazardous waste from these operations which is a relatively small amount based on Resource, Conservation, and Recovery Act (RCRA) standards (CH2M Hill 1981). This amount is small because of TAFB's principal historic and current missions of testing and training and not industrial production or heavy maintenance and repair operations.

History of Waste Investigations

TAFB began investigating past disposal practices in 1981. Since then, TAFB has investigated and completed reports on many sites where past disposal or releases of hazardous substances have been identified. Currently, TAFB and EPA have identified 83 waste sites or areas of concern through the Installation Restoration Program (IRP) or Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) program. Thirty-eight sites and two areas of concern (AOCs) have been identified through the IRP while 58 solid waste management units (SWMUs) and 11 AOCs have been identified by the RCRA Facility Assessment. Of the 58 SWMUs and 11 AOCs under RCRA, 26 are already addressed under the IRP (Booz Allen & Hamilton 1996).

These 83 sites are under different phases of investigation and some of these sites have been identified as requiring no further action. As of June 1996, 16 IRP sites and 22 SWMUs have been proposed for no further action (Booz Allen & Hamilton 1996).

TAFB was listed on the EPA National Priorities List for Uncontrolled Hazardous Waste Sites in April 1997, effective May 1997, as a result of DDT, DDD, and DDE found in sediment in Fred Bayou (also known as Shoal Point Bayou, Site No.OT029, or IRP Site 29) (U.S. Government Printing Office 1997). TAFB is currently investigating the source of DDT and evaluating options for remedial action at this site.

ATSDR Involvement

As required by CERCLA, ATSDR is preparing this PHA to evaluate the potential human health effects associated with exposure to environmental conditions at the base. To prepare this report, ATSDR visited TAFB in January 1997 to collect this environmental information and to identify community health concerns.

During our visit, we toured the base to observe the environmental conditions and met with the Air Force personnel and their contractors. We discussed the nature and extent of chemical contamination at the base, the proximity of chemically contaminated areas to on-base and off-base populations, and the types of human activities that could lead to exposures to the contamination. ATSDR staff members also met or talked to personnel from county, state and other federal agencies with knowledge of the base to identify their role and concerns. Information from these activities has been integrated with our review of environmental sampling data to draw the conclusions about the public health issues at the base which are presented in this document.

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