Over 600 current and closed military facilities have been declared Superfund sites by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, indicating that they are among the most dangerous places in the country needing remediation. One of those installations, George Air Force Base, located 8 miles northwest of central Victorville, California, was added to the EPA’s Superfund list in 1990 and closed in 1992. Department of Defense investigators discovered 14 monitoring wells on George Air Force Base with contaminants present in the water at concentrations ranging from 87 to 5,396 parts per trillion — well over the EPA's limit of 70 parts per trillion.
Along with many other facilities in the state, George Air Force Base used aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) in regular fire training exercises. The firefighting foam was disposed of at Landfill-1, which is situated south of Air Base Road in the Southeast Disposal Area (SEDA) and approximately 14 miles upstream of the old Drinking Water Supply Wells for the base, numerous residences, and the former Victor Valley Country Club, potentially exposing hundreds of civilians and military personnel, as well as their family members (spouses, children, and developing fetuses), to PFAS over time.
What toxic agents are lurking on George Air Force Base?
Formerly a critical Cold War fighter jet training field, George Air Force Base now consists of rows of decrepit homes, a demolished military hospital, abandoned structures, and toxic chemicals from jet fuel, chlorinated solvents, pesticides, and other hazardous wastes that have poisoned the groundwater resources for decades.
The Environmental Protection Agency has found over 30 pollutants of concern at the site that "represent an unacceptable risk to human health or the environment" and are present in the soil, solid waste, and groundwater. These contaminants include:
- per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)
- jet fuel
- chlorinated pesticides
- semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs)
- total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPE)
- trichloroethylene (TCE)
George Air Force Base was decommissioned in 1992 as part of the Base Realignment and Closure. Within a year, the Department of Defense started releasing property to local municipalities for redevelopment purposes. However, the local aquifers are still contaminated after 25 years. The Air Force discovered PFAS chemicals in the installation's groundwater in 2015, posing a risk to the companies established on the base as well as the neighboring community.
What diseases can veterans and their families develop as a result of PFAS exposure?
A number of perfluorinated chemicals, including two of the most popular fluorochemicals, PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) and PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonic acid), have been associated with cancer, reproductive and immune system damage, thyroid and renal illness, and other health issues at extremely low levels. The propensity of these chemicals to be stored in the body, referred to as body burden, raises worries about the potential consequences on human health.
Several studies have found that exposure to perfluoroalkyl substances during early pregnancy can have negative effects on both the pregnant woman and the fetus, resulting in miscarriages, impaired fetal growth, and birth defects. These findings have raised concerns about the risks associated with widespread environmental contamination caused by these toxic chemicals, which are released from aqueous film-forming foam.
The medical difficulties that many female military members and military wives had while stationed at George Air Force Base included reproductive issues, congenital anomalies, stillbirths, and miscarriages. At the base, women were advised – even by their physicians in certain instances – to "avoid pregnancy".
This is the comprehensive list of diagnoses that can be attributed to PFAS exposure, as well as the diseases for which you or a family member who was stationed with you can file a toxic exposure claim:
If you were stationed at George Air Force Base for at least one year with your husband or by yourself as a female service member and had a miscarriage while you were pregnant, or gave birth to a baby with developmental problems, please contact our legal office. We will thoroughly investigate your case. Our experienced staff will conduct a comprehensive analysis of all aspects of our clients' situations to ensure that all reasonable alternatives have been explored.