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PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT

MCCHORD AIR FORCE BASE
PIERCE COUNTY, TACOMA, WASHINGTON


CONCLUSIONS

ATSDR has concluded that the 65 sites at McCAFB are no apparent public health hazard; however, if in the future contaminants from the soil and groundwater migrate off-site or towards the base supply wells via the groundwater, then a public health hazard could exist. Specific areas that are still being investigated or which could be of concern in the future if contaminants migrate include the base supply wells and the off-site private and public wells in the southeast portion of Lakewood, and the ALGT.

  1. The drinking water (sampled at taps) from two of the base supply wells is contaminated with TCE. However, currently, the contamination levels are not of health concern. Also, the site (Site 44, Area G) where the two contaminated base supply wells are is currently undergoing environmental characterization (Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study). These wells are monitored quarterly. (McCAFB is conducting groundwater sampling to determine the source of base well contamination and to determine a remedy for that contamination.)

  2. One residential well (depth unknown) used for potable purposes is downgradient (northwest) of Areas A-C. This well is not regularly tested and if it did become contaminated, residents could become exposed to contaminants via ingestion, inhalation, and dermal contact. Long-term groundwater monitoring is in place to ensure that migration of contaminants would be detected before any exposures would occur.

  3. In the past, several residents living in the ALGT were exposed to TCE and cis-1,2-DCE in drinking water wells when contamination from the base reached private wells. Health effects from those exposures are difficult to evaluate, since data on the contaminant levels and the duration of exposure do not exist. Two private wells which are completed in the contaminated surficial aquifer are still being used for potable purposes, however, the levels of contamination are not of health concern.

  4. Data needed to fully assess public health implications from exposure:

    1. Groundwater data at Area G to assess the potential adverse health effects of exposure to contaminated groundwater from on-base supply wells. (McCAFB is conducting groundwater sampling to determine the source of base well contamination and to determine a remedy for that contamination.)

    2. Long-term groundwater monitoring at ALGT to include analysis of samples for both VOCs and metals.

There are insufficient or no community-specific health outcome data to indicate that the site has had an adverse effect on human health.


RECOMMENDATIONS

  1. Continue monitoring base water supplies, principally taps located at the beginning of the distribution system nearest the contaminated base supply wells. (McCAFB is conducting groundwater sampling to determine source of base well contamination and to determine remedy for that contamination.)

  2. Ensure that the placement of monitoring wells for long-term monitoring at western boundary of base near Areas B and C will detect any plume moving off-base towards private residential wells in that part of Lakewood.
  1. Continue long-term groundwater monitoring at ALGT.

  2. The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) of 1980, as amended, requires ATSDR to perform public health actions needed at hazardous waste sites. To determine if public health actions are needed, ATSDR's Health Activities Recommendation Panel (HARP) has evaluated the data and information in the McChord Air Force Base Public Health Assessment. The information available does not indicate that humans are currently being exposed to levels of contamination that would be expected to cause illness or injury. However, past exposures to TCE in the groundwater at the ALGT site may have resulted in a small increase in cancer risk. A few long-term residents in the community are concerned about this increased risk. The panel determined that public health information contained in this public health assessment is appropriate to inform the residents. No health studies or other public health actions are indicated at this time.

    In accordance with CERCLA, as amended, ATSDR, Washington Department of Health, and Washington Department of Ecology will reevaluate McCAFB for appropriate health follow-up activities, if additional information become available that indicates human exposure to contaminants at levels that could cause adverse effects.



PUBLIC HEALTH ACTIONS

In accordance with the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) of 1980, the data and information reviewed for McChord AFB will be evaluated for public health actions.

The public health action plan (PHAP) for McChord AFB describes actions planned by ATSDR and/or the Air Force following completion of the public health assessment. The purpose of the PHAP is to ensure that this public health assessment not only identifies public health hazards, but provides a plan of action designed to mitigate and prevent adverse human health effects resulting from exposure to hazardous substances in the environment. Included, is a commitment on the part of ATSDR to follow up on this plan to ensure that it is implemented.

Actions Undertaken:

  1. McCAFB provided the ALGT community connections to a municipal water supply. However, some of the community did not choose to participate.

  2. McCAFB sampled base water supplies at some of the taps and determined that some were contaminated.

  3. McCAFB constructed a pump and treatment system to treat the contaminated surficial aquifer at the ALGT. The system became fully operational February 15, 1994.

Actions Planned:

  1. The Division of Health Assessment and Consultation, ATSDR, is providing through this public health assessment environmental health information to assist the ALGT community in assessing possible adverse health outcomes associated with exposure to hazardous substances.

  2. ATSDR will provide an annual follow up to this PHAP, outlining the actions completed and those in progress. This report will be placed in repositories that contain copies of this public health assessment, and will be provided to persons who request it.

ATSDR will reevaluate and expand the Public Health Action Plan when needed. New environmental, toxicological, or health outcome data, or the results of implementing the above proposed action may determine the need for additional actions at this site.


PREPARERS OF REPORT

Marie B. Patterson
Environmental Health Scientist
Federal Programs Branch
Division of Health Assessment and Consultation

Susan Moore
Toxicologist
Federal Programs Branch
Division of Health Assessment and Consultation

Oscar Cerda, M.D.
Medical Officer
Federal Programs Branch
Division of Health Assessment and Consultation

Edward Gregory, Ph.D.
Demographer
Federal Programs Branch
Division of Health Assessment and Consultation

Leticia Arredondo, M.D.; M.P.H.
Medical Officer
Federal Programs Branch
Division of Health Assessment and Consultation

Maurice West, P.E., DEE
Environmental Engineer
Federal Programs Branch
Division of Health Assessment and Consultation


REVIEWERS OF REPORT

Mike Allred, Ph.D.
Toxicologist
Federal Programs Branch
Division of Health Assessment and Consultation

John E. Abraham, Ph.D.; M.P.H.
Chief, Defense Facilities Assessment Section
Federal Programs Branch
Division of Health Assessment and Consultation

ATSDR Regional Representatives:

Greg Thomas
Public Health Advisor
EPA Region X

Rick Robinson
Public Health Advisor
EPA Region X


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