Air Force continuing mitigation, PCBs found at another missile site

Air Force Global Strike Command released the initial PCB survey results from Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota last week, completing the first round of sampling at its three missile bases.

Results from Malmstrom AFB and F.E. Warren AFB in Wyoming were released in August.

The survey was conducted in June and July, consisting of air, water, soil and surface swipes at each missile alert facility in the command.

No airborne polychlorinated biphenyls were detected in any of the tests, but four surfaces tested above the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s standard for non-porous surfaces. Two of those were at Malmstrom, one surface at Hotel-01 and one surface at India-01.

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Two were at Minot at Delta-01.

During a virtual town hall on Aug. 25, AFGSC commander Gen. Thomas Bussiere discussed the latest results and took questions.

A total of 90 air samples were collected, consisting of eight-hour samples collected at each above-ground MAF and each underground launch control center, which includes an adjoining launch control equipment building. No air samples detected any airborne PCBs, according to AFGSC.

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“A total of 900 surface swipe samples were collected from across all of the command’s MAFs and LCCs, focusing on common touch areas and places known or suspected PCB-containing equipment was currently or historically installed,” according to AFGSC.

Of the 900 samples:

  • 832, or 92.5 percent, detected no PCBs
  • 64, or 7.1 percent, detected PCBs at levels below the standard set by the EPA for mitigation
  • 4 surface samples, or 0.44 percent, detected PCBs above the EPA’s standard for mitigation, two each at Malmstrom and Minot

The EPA requires mitigation of PCBs when non-porous surfaces contain more than 10 micrograms in a 100 square centimeter area, a space about the size of your palm, according to AFGSC.

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A microgram is one one-millionth of a gram. A gram is approximately the weight of a paper clip, according to AFGSC.

Bussiere ordered the immediate cleaning of all facilities where any level of PCBs was discovered, regardless of whether it was above or below EPA standards. In facilities where surface samples detected PCBs above the EPA standard, he ordered restrictions and mitigations to prevent exposure until clean-up can be completed, according to AFGSC.

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Bussiere said they would take further action based on additional results from the missile community cancer study.

In addition to PCBs, the U.S. Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine is sampling for a range of other potential contaminates, including radon and pesticides from agricultural runoff. Results from these tests, as well as PCB tests on soil and water samples, will be released as they are provided to the command, according to AFGSC.

More information about PCBs is here.

More information about the missile community cancer study is here.