Luke Air Force Base

Planes taxiing on runway at Luke Air Force Base

Luke Air Force Base

Location

The Luke Air Force Base (AFB) site occupies 4,198 acres in Glendale, Arizona, which is approximately 13 miles west of downtown Phoenix.  The base is approximately located east of Arizona State Route 303, south of Northern Parkway, west of Arizona State Route 101, and north of Camelback Road.  There are approximately 4,900 military personnel and dependents living on base.  Civilian and other military personnel who commute to the base daily from off-base areas bring the total daily base population to approximately 8,000.

Contaminants of Concern

In 2016, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a Health Advisory Level (HAL) for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS).  PFOA and PFOS are members of the per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) family of substances and combined (PFOS + PFOA) make up the PFAS HAL of 70 parts per trillion (ppt).  PFAS are a group of man-made chemicals with fire-retardant properties that have been manufactured and used by a variety of industries since 1940.  PFAS have been used commercially in the United States to make products like stain and water resistant carpet and textiles, food packaging, firefighting foam, as well as in other industrial processes.  PFAS compounds at Luke AFB are associated (primarily) with firefighting foam (aqueous film forming foam [AFFF]).

Other contaminants associated with Luke AFB include organic solvents and paint strippers, waste oil spills, petroleum spills, metal plating wastes, hydraulic fluids, and radiological wastes.  Soil was contaminated with waste oils and volatile organic compounds resulting from the diverse processes that have taken place at the site.  Potential human health hazards included accidental ingestion or direct contact with contaminated materials.

Public Health Impact

Luke AFB impacted media includes groundwater and soil. There is no current, known, unmitigated risk to human health at this time.  Risk mitigation measures have been implemented for known contaminants and locations.

PFAS
The emerging contaminant of PFAS has been detected on and off the Luke AFB in groundwater and soil.  The emerging contaminant continues to be investigated on and offsite at the Luke AFB.  Additional groundwater resource information can be found in the sidebar links under SEE MORE.

PFAS exposure is linked to potential adverse human health outcomes and is the subject of increasing regulation and litigation.  Some studies have shown that certain PFAS may increase the risk of cancer, affect the immune system and impact children’s development.  Additional research is ongoing.  The most significant PFAS human exposure pathway is drinking impacted municipal or well water.

Installation Sites
Other Luke AFB contaminants include organic solvents and paint strippers, waste oil spills, petroleum spills, metal plating wastes, hydraulic fluids, and radiological wastes. These contaminant-impacted sites have mitigation remedies in place and do not pose a known risk to human health at this time.  On base exposure pathways have been eliminated through remediation, restricted access, and restricted use.  No on base groundwater wells are known to be impacted by these releases.  On base groundwater wells are regularly monitored.  The Luke AFB is protective of human health and the environment with respect to the organic solvents and paint strippers, waste oil spills, petroleum spills, metal plating wastes, hydraulic fluids, and radiological wastes.

 

Action Taken

PFAS
In 2015, Luke AFB investigated facilities where PFAS were potentially used and PFAS containing water was potentially released.  These areas include firefighting training areas, crash sites, airfield, maintenance buildings, storage buildings, waste water treatment facility, and treated-water outfalls.  The Air Force Civil Engineer Center’s (AFCEC’s) Preliminary Assessment focused on historic AFFF storage and release areas.  The 2015 Preliminary Assessment recommended several areas of interest for a Site Investigation.  The 2019 Site Investigation results showed PFOA and PFOS concentrations in select soil and groundwater samples.  The 2019 results prompted AFCEC to initiate an Expanded Site Inspection focused on requesting access to privately owned wells within one-mile downgradient (south to southwest) from Luke AFB. 

By 2020, AFCEC initiated a Remedial Investigation to confirm and delineate PFOA and PFOS impact.   AFCEC also continued with the Expanded Site Investigation and explored the potential to sample public water systems and privately owned wells out to four miles downgradient (south to southwest) from Luke AFB. 

By early 2021, Luke AFB command personnel released notifications that mitigation actions were in place at public water supply and privately owned water wells that were identified as impacted above the EPA HAL and will monitor, on a quarterly basis, privately owned wells impacted above 35 ppt but below the HAL of 70 ppt. 

Installation Sites
In 2017, the fourth Five Year Review (FYR) was released.  The FYR determined that all remedies are functioning as designed, continue to be protective of human health and the environment, and control exposure pathways that could result in unacceptable risks. The next FYR will be due in 2022.

By 2023, the Luke AFB intention is to achieve site closure for the majority of the FYR-listed sites.  The US Air Force defines site closure as when the regulatory agency(ies) concur that an environmental site’s active management and monitoring is complete.  That is, the chemicals of concern (COC) have been remediated and/or removed to meet project action levels and no further long-term monitoring (LTM) and/or institutional controls (ICs) are required by both the regulator and the US Air Force.

Status

PFAS
AFCEC continues with the Remedial Investigation on and off site for areas impacted with PFAS within a four-mile downgradient (south to southwest) direction from the base.  The investigation is being conducted in multiple phases and field work is anticipated to be completed by 2023. 

Installation Sites
The installation sites under LTM or ICs are in various stages of sampling, reporting, and closure. The next FYR evaluation for these sites will be reported in 2022.