Luke Air Force Base

Planes taxiing on runway at Luke Air Force Base

Luke Air Force Base | Site History

1941 - 1951: Industrial-type operations started in 1941 and were comparatively small until 1946. After a period of deactivation, the base resumed operations in 1951. During the 1950s, larger quantities of wastes were generated by the expanded maintenance required for the new jet aircraft assigned to the base. At the Waste Treatment Annex (site No. 2), a small quantity of low-level radioactive electron tubes, believed to be encased in concrete, was buried in a pit 12 feet deep in 1956.

1951 - 1973: The Perimeter Road Petroleum, Oil, and Lubricants (POL) Waste Application site (site No. 4) was used during approximately 1951-70. POL wastes were spread on the dirt road around the runway at the western portion of the base. The majority of the wastes consisted of contaminated JP-4 fuel, with some diesel fuel, waste engine oils, and waste solvents. Among the substances that may have been included were methyl ethyl ketone (MEK), trichloroethane (TCA), trichloroethene (TCE), toluene, cresylic acid, o-dichlorobenzene, phenolic paint strippers, acetone, and paint residues and thinners.

The POL Waste Disposal Trench site (site No. 5) was used during about 1970-72. POL wastes were disposed of in numerous trenches approximately 1.5 feet deep and in a shallow lagoon at the northeast corner of the site.

The South Fire Department Training Area (site No. 6) was used during 1941-46, and again during approximately 1951-63.  POL wastes were poured onto old aircraft or simulated aircraft in a cleared, bermed area and then set on fire.

The North Fire Department Training Area (site No. 7) was used during approximately 1963-73. The disposal method was similar to site No. 6.

Thirty-two areas of the base were subject to further investigation: two fire training areas; a waste oil and fuels underground storage tank area; three waste oil disposal trench areas; three surface drainage canals receiving oily wastes; a sewage treatment plant effluent canal; the site of an abandoned Defense Reutilization and Marking Office; thirteen land disposal sites (one of which contains a radiological disposal area); an old incinerator site; a former outside transformer storage site; two leaking underground storage tank sites; an abandoned surface impoundment; an ammunition storage area; a skeet range; and the base production wells.

1983: In November, eight water supply wells on the base were sampled as part of Installation Restoration Program (IRP). Analysis indicated that two of the wells had low levels of 1,2-dichloroethane (1,2-DCA) and trans-1,2-dichloroethene (1,2-DCE). Soil near one of the wells contained 1,2-DCA. An estimated 10,400 people obtain drinking water from base and private wells within three miles of hazardous substances on the base.