PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT
FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE
SPOKANE, SPOKANE COUNTY, WASHINGTON
Fairchild Air Force Base (Fairchild) is located 12 miles west of the city of Spokane. An initialrecords search released in January 1985 as part of the base Installation Restoration Programidentified 22 potential hazardous waste sites based on personnel interviews and availabledocumentation. More sites were identified during subsequent investigations and the base wasadded to the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) National Priorities List in March 1989. A Federal Facilities Agreement was signed one year later by Fairchild, EPA and the WashingtonDepartment of Ecology (Ecology). This agreement puts the base as the lead agency with EPAand Ecology providing oversight. Sites identified by the base were given priority according topotential health hazard. To date, a total of 39 hazardous waste sites have been identified at Fairchild.
CRAIG ROAD LANDFILL AREA - Trichloroethylene (TCE) from the landfill hasimpacted groundwater at the Vietzke Village, Scafco Corporation and possibly the AirwayHeights public water supply.
Fairchild operated the Craig Road Landfill on a parcel of land located approximately 3,000 feeteast of the main base. This landfill is the source of trichloroethylene (TCE) groundwatercontamination found in the drinking water supply wells at the Vietzke Village trailer park and theScafco Corporation facility. Elevated nitrate levels not thought to be related to the Craig RoadLandfill were also detected in the Vietzke wells. The water supply wells for the Vietzke Villageand Scafco Corporation facility have been officially abandoned and are no longer a source ofexposure. Vietzke Village and the Scafco facility are currently supplied with water by theFairchild and Airway Heights public water systems, respectively. The landfill is also a potentialcontributing source of the TCE contamination currently being detected in two Airway Heightspublic water supply wells. These wells are downgradient from the contamination and aremonitored by the base four times per year. Current levels of TCE in the Airway Heights publicsupply wells are below regulatory standards and do not represent a public health hazard. Thebase has been operating a groundwater treatment system at the landfill since October 1992 toremove the source of TCE contamination that is moving off-base to the east/northeast. Thissystem was expanded in September 1995 and should help reduce groundwater contamination nearthe landfill.
Past, current and future exposure to TCE in the Airway Heights public water supply represents noapparent public health hazard. Past exposure to TCE in the Scafco Corporation wells representsno apparent public health hazard.
Past exposure to TCE and nitrate in the Vietzke Village wells represents no apparent public healthhazard to the general population. However, an indeterminate public health hazard exists for thechildren of women exposed while pregnant to TCE and nitrate in Vietzke Village drinking waterprior to August 1989 when exposure ceased. Children born to women who drank TCE andnitrate in Vietzke Village water while pregnant prior to August 1989 could have been at somerisk for birth defects and other adverse birth outcomes. There is no clear evidence, however, toindicate that the levels of exposure at Vietzke Village were high enough to cause these types ofhealth effects.
ATSDR and DOH recommend continued quarterly monitoring of the Airway Heights publicsupply wells for VOCs until three quarterly samples have shown no detection of base-relatedcontaminants. Areas immediately adjacent to the east and north borders of the Craig RoadLandfill are currently not suitable for future development of groundwater wells designed fordomestic use. DOH and ATSDR will communicate this conclusion to affected property owners.
No outdoor (ambient) air sampling data are available for any areas at the base. The potential forvolatile organic compounds (VOCs) to off-gas from Craig Road Landfill soil into outdoor air wasassessed using a mathematical model. Results from this model indicate that levels of VOCs inoutdoor air at the nearby Vietzke Village represent no apparent public health hazard. TheSpokane County Air Pollution Control Authority (SCAPCA) currently requires periodicmonitoring of emissions from the Craig Road Landfill. These emissions are evaluated bySCAPCA to ensure that contaminants in air at nearby residences are below a level of health concern.
WEST THORPE ROAD AREA - Residential drinking water wells and No-Name Ditch(Fairchild Easement) have been impacted by contaminants originating at the basewastewater lagoons and herbicide spraying (Tordon).
Residential wells in the West Thorpe Road area east of the base wastewater lagoons (WW-1) andfire training (FT-1) area have been impacted by TCE. The exact source of this TCE plume is notknown but is thought to be in the general area of the wastewater lagoons. The fire-training arealocated south of the lagoons is the source of low levels of TCE and higher levels of benzene thathave not moved off-base to any significant extent. Exposure of West Thorpe Road area residentsto current levels of TCE in groundwater represents no apparent public health hazard. Groundwater cleanup has been undertaken by the base to address both of these contaminationsources. In addition, on-base monitoring wells and nearby residential wells are monitored by thebase four times per year.
ATSDR and DOH recommend continued monitoring of the West Thorpe Road area wells untilthese wells are no longer threatened by groundwater contaminants associated with the base. DOH will consider a well to be safe after three quarterly samples have shown no detection of base-related contaminants. Also, areas immediately adjacent to the east borders of thewastewater lagoons and fire training area are currently not suitable for future development ofwells designed for domestic use. DOH and ATSDR will communicate this conclusion to affectedproperty owners.
Another area of particular concern to the residents of the West Thorpe Road area is the FairchildEasement, also known as No-Name Ditch. The ditch runs from the wastewater lagoons locatedon the eastern border of the base across Rambo Road and through several residences in the WestThorpe Road area before draining to groundwater. The wastewater lagoons currently receivesurface water runoff from the base storm water discharge system. This system formerly deliveredwaste discharge from base maintenance shops to the lagoons. No apparent public health hazardexists for children who might play in and around the ditch. There is some concern that pastlevels of petroleum-related contaminants in ditch sediment and surface water may have beenhigher. Because contact with contaminants in the ditch was probably infrequent, past exposure isnot expected to be of concern.
The herbicide Tordon was applied to roadways in the West Thorpe Road area and No-NameDitch. In 1979, low levels of Tordon were detected in residential garden soil, drinking waterwells and No-Name Ditch surface water. No apparent public health hazard exists from pastexposure of West Thorpe Road area residents to Tordon in drinking water, surface water or soil. Tordon does not appear to be a potent animal carcinogen and there is no evidence that Tordoncauses cancer in humans. The low levels detected would likely represent only a slight orinsignificant increase in cancer risk.
ON-BASE HAZARDOUS WASTE SITES
Thirty-nine contaminated sites have been identified on base. Exposure of on-base workers tocontaminants in soil, surface water or sediment represents no apparent public health hazard. No base personnel are exposed to contaminated groundwater. No apparent public health hazardexists for children exposed to lead in surface soil at the former aircraft salvage yard site (SW-11). The site is currently a recreation area (Warrior Park) and was found to contain elevatedlevels of lead in surface soil with a maximum of 1,340 ppm. Based on a previous DOHrecommendation, the base conducted further sampling to determine if this maximum level wasrepresentative of high use areas of the park. This extensive sampling found a maximum of 98ppm lead in surface soil. Blood lead levels in children exposed to lead in Warrior Park soil are notexpected to increase above a level of health concern. The park should be periodically inspected,however, to ensure that no metallic debris, that may pose a physical hazard, is exposed in thefuture.
The potential exists for land use, currently posing no apparent public health hazard to basepersonnel, to change in the future. Future development of base property for residential use maynot be suitable in some areas. Future installation of water supply wells for domestic use couldresult in exposure to contaminants above a level of concern. Soil contamination that poses noapparent public health hazard to on-base workers could be a hazard under a residential exposurescenario. The risk posed to future residents would depend on many factors including location,date of development, and ongoing cleanup efforts. Future residential development in and aroundthese areas should be preceded by evidence showing that contaminants in soil and groundwaterare below levels of concern. Development of base property is currently subject to review onvarious levels that should prevent the location of any new residential developments in areas ofconcern. Should the base close in the future, any transfer of property is subject to therequirements of the USAF Base Realignment and Closure program that includes comprehensiveenvironmental review.
Table 1 summarizes the completed exposure pathways discussed above and provides conclusioncategories for each. ATSDR uses these conclusion categories to identify sites that require follow-up health action. The ATSDR conclusion categories are defined in Appendix F. Both completedand potential exposure pathways are discussed in detail under the Pathways Analysis/PublicHealth Implications section of this document. Follow-up health actions are discussed in the Public Health Action Plan (page 67).
|Craig Road Landfill||VietzkeVillage||Residents||Drinking Water||Past||Indeterminate Public Health Hazard|
|Current||No Public Health Hazard|
|Future||No Public Health Hazard|
|Outdoor Air||Past, Current, Future||No Apparent Public Health Hazard|
|AirwayHeights||Residents||Drinking Water||Past, Current, Future||No Apparent Public Health Hazard|
|ScafcoCorporation||Workers||Drinking Water||Past, Current, Future||No Apparent Public Health Hazard|
|Base Wastewater Lagoons||West ThorpeRoad||Residents||Drinking Water||Past, Current, Future||No Apparent Public Health Hazard|
|Surface Water, Sediment in No-Name Ditch||Past, Current, Future||No Apparent Public Health HazardSediment in No-NameDitch|
|Tordon Application||West ThorpeRoad||Residents||Drinking Water, Soil||Past||No Apparent Public Health Hazard|
|Surface Water in|
|On-Base Hazardous Waste Sites||On-BaseHazardousWaste Sites||Workers||Soil/Sediment||Past, Current, Future||No Apparent Public Health Hazard|
|On-BaseRecreationArea||Children||Soil||Past, Current, Future||No Apparent Public Health Hazard|
The ATSDR conclusion categories are defined in Appendix F.
Fairchild Air Force Base (Fairchild) is located 12 miles west of the city of Spokane, Washingtonadjacent to US Highway 2 and 3 miles north of Interstate 90 (Figure 1). The base is at anelevation of 2,463 feet above sea level and covers approximately 4,300 acres of high plainscharacteristic of Eastern Washington. Fairchild originated as the Spokane Army Air Depot in1942 and was turned over to the United States Air Force (Strategic Air Command) in 1947. Thebase is currently shared with the Washington Air National Guard and several tenant organizations. Several facilities administered by the base are located in the surrounding area off the main base(Figure 2).
Fairchild generated considerable quantities of hazardous waste throughout its history as a result ofits function as an aircraft maintenance and refueling station. Most of the waste generated forrecycling or disposal was either fuel oil, machine oil or solvents. Smaller quantities of acids andphotographic chemicals were also generated. Releases of these materials to the environmentoccurred as a result of land filling, discharge to the base wastewater drainage system, fire trainingexercises, and accidental spills and leaks.
Fairchild initiated investigations of potential hazardous waste releases in September 1984 as partof a four-phase Installation Restoration Program (IRP). The IRP program was implemented bythe USAF in 1982 under the direction of the Department of Defense (DOD) in order to complywith the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA),also known as Superfund. A Phase I records search released in January 1985 identified 22potential hazardous waste sites based on personnel interviews and available documentation. These areas received risk rankings according to the USAF Hazard Assessment RatingMethodology (HARM). 1
Identification of sites continued through 1988 under a modified IRP process designed to fit moreclosely with the Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study (RI/FS) process used by theEnvironmental Protection Agency (EPA). In March of 1989, Fairchild was listed on EPA'sNational Priorities List (NPL) and a Federal Facilities Agreement was signed one year later byFairchild, EPA and the Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology). Sites determined to posea potential hazard to public health or the environment were required to undergo the RI/FS processwith Fairchild as the lead agency. 2
To date, thirty-nine sites have been identified at Fairchild (Figure 3). These sites have been put inthree priority groups according to potential hazard. Of the 39 sites identified, 8 rank as Priority 1,20 as Priority 2, and 11 as Priority 3. Three Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Studies (RI/FS)and one Limited Field Investigation were conducted to investigate contamination at the Priority 1and 2 sites. An RI/FS was completed in September 1992 for the Craig Road Landfill (SW-8)Priority 1 site. 3 An RI/FS for the remaining 7 Priority 1 sites was completed in February 1993. 4 A Limited Field Investigation for the Priority 2 sites, completed in September of 1992, determinedthat an RI/FS was needed for only 9 of these sites. An RI/FS for these nine sites (designated asPriority 2a) was completed in February 1995. 5
A Site Investigation for eight areas of concern (AOC) was released in November 1996. Includedin this investigation were Priority 2 sites SW-6 (Weapons Storage Area) and SW-13 (ExplosiveOrdinance Range) and Orphan Trichloroethylene Plumes. 6 These 11 sites are currently classifiedas Priority 3. The Orphan Trichlorethylene Plumes are areas of on-base trichloroethylene (TCE)groundwater contamination located along the flight line with no specific source. Some of theseplumes are believed to be related to previously identified sites. Appendix B lists each identifiedsite, associated investigations and actions proposed or taken.
In addition to the sites identified within the boundaries of the base, two groundwatercontamination plumes originating on base have migrated east to off-base properties. Another off-base area of concern is the Fairchild Easement (No-Name Ditch) that runs from the wastewaterlagoons across Rambo Road and through residential properties along West Thorpe Road.
Several removal actions have occurred at various sites around the base. In April of 1992,contaminated soil was removed from site PS-5 along with 3 underground storage tanks (USTs)from site PS-7. Contaminated sediment was removed from the French Drain System (IS-1) inDecember 1992. Site SW-11 was covered with top soil and seeded with grass in March 1992 toreduce potential exposure via inhalation or direct contact with contaminants in soil. In August of1996, 200 cubic yards of soil contaminated with TCE and total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPH)were excavated up to a depth of 9 feet at Site PS-10 in order to remove a potential threat to groundwater. 7
In addition to these removal actions, several Long Term Operations (LTO) are ongoing at varioussites on the base. A groundwater treatment system installed at the Craig Road Landfill (SW-8) inSeptember 1995 is currently operating to remove the source of a groundwater plume moving off-base to the east/northeast. The base responded to contamination of nearby public supply wells atthe Vietzke Village trailer park by supplying bottled drinking water to trailer park residents fromJuly 18, 1989, through early August 1989, when the park was connected to base water. Underthe direction of Fairchild, all three Vietzke wells were filled with concrete and officiallyabandoned between May and June 1993. The base currently monitors Airway Heights publicsupply wells RW-1 and RW-4 for VOC contamination (including TCE) four times per year.
Groundwater treatment is also ongoing in the area south of wastewater lagoon (WW-1) as ofFebruary 1996. The WW-1 area is another source of off-base TCE groundwater contaminationthat is currently affecting residential wells to the southeast along West Thorpe Road. The basecurrently monitors several West Thorpe Road residential wells for VOC contamination four timesper year.
The base is also conducting a Long Term Monitoring (LTM) program that includes sampling andanalysis of soil and monitoring wells for TPH and VOCs at sites with identified contamination. Soil bioventing began in June 1997 at sites FT-1 and PS-1 to clean up petroleum in soil. Groundwater treatment (air sparging) at FT-1 also started at this time. Appendix B lists each sitealong with actions taken for that site. For detailed information regarding environmentalinvestigations and cleanup actions at the base, please refer to the Information Repository locatedat the Spokane Falls Community College Library.
In 1991, after entering into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Department ofDefense (DOD), ATSDR visited 96 DOD National Priorities List (NPL) sites including Fairchild. At this time, Fairchild was ranked as a relatively low priority for a public health assessment whencompared with other DOD NPL sites. A grant awarded to DOH for the federal fiscal year 1997,as part of an existing cooperative agreement with ATSDR, provided funds to conduct a publichealth assessment at Fairchild.
A site visit of Fairchild was conducted from December 16-18, 1996, by Robert Duff (DOH),Vicki Skeers (DOH), Carole Hossom (ATSDR - Atlanta) and Steven Haness (ATSDR - Seattle). The visit was organized and guided by base representatives from the BioenvironmentalEngineering office and Installation Restoration Program. A brief presentation describing thepublic health assessment process and the cooperative agreement between DOH and ATSDR wasgiven to base personnel on December 16. In addition to base personnel, a representative fromArmstrong Laboratories (liaison between the USAF and ATSDR) and USAF Headquarters AirMobility Command at Scott AFB, Illinois, were present throughout the three-day visit.
A site walk-around on December 17 included remedial project managers from EPA and Ecologyas well as a representative from the Spokane Regional Health District (formerly Spokane CountyHealth District). The walk-around focused on the Craig Road Landfill (SW-8), wastewatertreatment lagoons (WW-1), former fire training area (FT-1) and No-Name Ditch. Sites located inthe interior of the base were viewed on a drive-by basis.
The Craig Road Landfill and Vietzke Village were viewed from Craig Road. Monitoring wellslocated on the landfill and adjacent properties were noted. The air stripping tower associated withthe groundwater treatment plant could be seen from the road. No signs of development werenoted on the Whitman College property located east of the landfill between Vietzke Village andthe Scafco Corporation facility. Base personnel did point out, however, that landfilling andquarrying have taken place on this property. The Scafco building was occupied by a tenantbusiness at the time of the site visit.
Water was flowing in No-Name Ditch and a small pond was noted at a residence along WestThorpe Road. Other residences along West Thorpe Road that are part of the ongoing residentialwell monitoring program were noted. Two more residences were noted along an access roadextending north off West Thorpe Road. Base personnel explained that these residences were inthe path of a groundwater plume moving off site. Sampling of the shallow (dug) well serving oneof these houses was discontinued in December 1995 per request of the tenant. This residentrecently agreed to again permit sampling and the well was scheduled to be included in theSeptember 1997 sampling round.
Discussions with base personnel continued on December 18. Proposed public availability sessionsto be held by DOH were explained to base personnel. A short description of the public healthassessment process was written for distribution to the Fairchild Restoration Advisory Board.
Demographics information for Fairchild and the surrounding area was obtained from ATSDR(Figure 4). The area surrounding the base is sparsely populated as indicated in the diagrams. Airway Heights, including the Vietzke Village trailer park, and Medical Lake are two communitieslocated within a one-mile radius of the base. The estimated base population is 5,518 with 27persons over 65 and 1,083 under 5 years of age. The population within one mile of the base totals4,907 with 412 persons greater than 65 and 566 children 6 years of age or younger. 8 These dataindicate that the on-base population contains 15 times fewer persons of retirement age and twicethe number of children under 6 years of age compared with Washington State averages. 9 Thenumber of adults older than 65 years of age living within one-mile of the base does not differsubstantially from state averages. The number of young children living within one-mile of the basecould not be compared with statewide numbers because of variation in age grouping. Discussionswith various community members suggest that many residents of the Airway Heights and MedicalLake communities are former Fairchild personnel.
Land use in the area surrounding the base is predominantly agricultural and residential. Smallbusinesses operate in the neighboring towns of Medical Lake and Airway Heights. There is littleindustrial activity in the area. In order to investigate the potential presence of other contaminantsources in the area, a search was made of the Toxic Release Inventory (TRI). TRI is a self-reporting database quantifying the release of over 300 chemicals into the environment that ismaintained by EPA in compliance with the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act(SARA) of 1986. At the time of the search in April 1997, TRI included data from 1987 through1994. No substantial sources of hazardous waste discharge are recorded in TRI for the areasurrounding the base. The only facility listed on TRI in the Medical Lake/Airway Heights area isSpokane Galvanizing Inc. located on Garfield Road in Airway Heights approximately 2000 feeteast of the Airway Heights public supply wells RW-1 and RW-4 (see Figure 6). The only TRI-listed chemicals generated by this facility are sulfuric acid and zinc both of which are transportedoff-site for land filling and recovery, respectively. 10
A municipal waste incinerator is located near the Spokane Airport. This incinerator serves most ofmunicipal waste needs of the City of Spokane as well as Fairchild. The incinerator began operationin September 1991. Stack emissions from the incinerator are continuously monitored for someEPA primary pollutants. No (outdoor) ambient air monitoring data have been collected in oraround the base. It is, therefore, unclear as to whether the incinerator is impacting air qualityaround the base. The Graham Road Recycling and Disposal Facility is a landfill located just west ofthe base on Graham Road. This landfill receives mostly construction debris but may be expandingits use and area of operation in the near future. There is no evidence that the landfill is acontributing source of any contamination detected during investigations in and around the base.
Drinking water for the base, Medical Lake and Airway Heights is supplied from groundwater wellsand must be tested periodically under federal law. Testing has shown these supplies to be safe todrink. The base water supply comes from the Fort Wright well field (Water Supply Annex No. 1)and on-base supply well #2 (Water Supply Annex No. 2). The Fort Wright well field is located 12miles east of the base near the Spokane River and consists of 4 wells that draw water from theSpokane Valley aquifer. The water is pumped to the Geiger Reservoir and then chlorinated priorto transport to Fairchild storage facilities. On-base supply well #2 is located at the southern end ofthe base and draws water from both the upper (Wanapum Basalt) and lower (Grande Ronde Basalt)bedrock aquifers. The Fort Wright well field generates a maximum of 4,100 gallons per minutewhile the contribution from on-base supply well #2 varies with water use and peaks in the summerat about 1,000 gallons per minute. 11
Airway Heights water supply is generated primarily from three blended supply wells (RW-1, RW-4and Well #5) located east of and downgradient from the Craig Road Landfill. The city recentlydeveloped another supply well (Well #7) located at the corner of McFarlane and Russel Road. Production at Well #7 has proven to be erratic and does not contribute substantially to the overallsupply. The blended groundwater is distributed to customers from a holding tank. 12
Medical Lake water supply is generated from three wells located about one mile west of Espanolaupgradient from the base. These wells are shared with state facilities in the area. The townrecently installed a new well approximately 1.8 miles southeast of the base at the intersection ofCounty Route 902 and Craig Road. This well should be operable by August 1997 and is expectedto deliver water to a future reservoir on Olson Hill at a rate of 1,200 gallons per minute. 13