Fort Bliss, which sits on roughly 1.12 million acres of land, has over 3,000 housing units for on-base personnel; there are one high school on the base and four elementary schools, as well as a care center for younger children. It is also known for its large training area size, where members of the Army prepare for fieldwork.
Toxic substances that surpass regulatory safety limits have been found at Fort Bliss. Numerous research samples showed worrisome contamination levels for several contaminants. The area planned for housing, dubbed "Parcel 2", includes one of the polluted sites: an illegal dump and spill site dubbed the Spill Site, also known as the Rubble Dump Site.
Prior to remediation, documentation of hazardous waste levels at the site showed that levels of cancer-causing substances in the soil exceeded 460 times the EPA's acceptable limit. For example, the concentration of semi-volatile benzo(a)pyrene detected in sampleRDS-10 was 468.8 times the EPA's screening level for cancer risk linked with residential soil exposure. In 2000 and 2001, the Army conducted post-cleanup soil monitoring at the Rubble Dump Site and discovered arsenic levels at least 19 times the EPA's permitted limit for residential soils.
What toxic agents were found on Fort Bliss?
At Fort Bliss, at least 80 polluted sites that are controlled by the EPA's hazardous waste remediation programs have been documented. These sites include:
- landfills/rubble pits
- fire training areas
- underground storage tank/oil pit sites
- detonation areas
- illegal dumpsites
- evaporation/oxidation ponds
Contaminants at these sites include, at a minimum, the following:
- chlorinated volatile organic compounds (Cl-VOCs) including polychloromethanes, polychloroethanes, and polychloroethylenes
- volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including benzene, ethylene glycol, formaldehyde, methylene chloride, tetrachloroethylene, toluene, xylene, and 2-butanone
- per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)
- explosive compounds, including unexploded ordnance (UXOs)
- radioactive metals
- pesticides and herbicides
The EPA has classified PFOA and PFOS as "emerging pollutants". That is, they are suspected of having a negative effect on human health. When firefighting foam is applied, PFOA and PFOS are released into the surrounding soil, often polluting groundwater. Furthermore, these compounds are persistent, which means they do not degrade once they reach the human body or the environment, and will continue to bioaccumulate with further exposure.
Despite the fact that these contaminants were found in high concentrations in the initial site assessment, the Army failed to perform a comprehensive subsurface study to properly define the extent of the contamination, and cleanup validation sampling was never conducted, making it impossible to demonstrate that carcinogenic chemicals were reduced to acceptable levels in the soil after remediation. If you have been exposed to these substances on a regular basis and have developed cancer or other serious health issues as a result, you are entitled to compensation.
What are the diseases associated with PFAS exposure on Fort Bliss?
Inhalation, oral intake, and skin absorption are all ways PFAS may enter the body. No matter how they are introduced into your system, these substances may cause serious health problems. They may even be life-threatening in certain instances. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cautions that exposure to PFAS-contaminated firefighting foam may increase the risk of cancer.
If you were stationed at Fort Bliss for at least 1 cumulative year and diagnosed with one of the following diseases, you may be eligible to submit a claim:
Veterans who were stationed at this military installation and later developed one of the illnesses listed above are eligible for compensation. Family members may also be eligible for financial compensation and medical care, particularly pregnant women who had complications during delivery or had babies with subsequent health problems.