We recently received this reader request to take a closer look at Andersen AFB in Guam:
I would like to see you start covering the major contamination at Andersen AFB Guam. People are contacting me asking for help how to get medical treatment. Many, like myself have doctors that are unable to provide a diagnosis because they have so many weird symptoms. While Vietnam era vets are pushing Agent Orange, I believe people may be sick from chemicals other than A.O. TCE was a major well contaminant at the Marbo Wells and many people drank that water. I drank that water for several months from a garden hose as I built a pump station near Marbo housing. That pump station was used to mix heavy contaminated water with less contaminated water from relief wells. The Air Force had no way of filtering the water at that time. Many of the sites I worked at have been remediated or abandoned all together as uninhabitable.
As a result, we’ve compiled some basic information and background documents on contamination at Guam and will continue to update this page from time to time as we uncover more information.
Andersen Air Force Base (AAFB) is a 20,000-acre site located on the northern end of the island of Guam. Since 1940, AAFB provides support for Strategic Air Command operations. Hazardous substances associated with AAFB operations include solvents such as trichloroethane (TCE) and paint thinners; dry cleaning fluids and laundry products; fuels such as JP-4 and gasoline; pesticides; antifreeze; aircraft cleaning compounds; and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).
These substances were found in unlined landfills, drum storage and disposal areas, chemical storage areas, fire training areas, waste storage areas, the laundry facility, and industrial and flight line operations. The Sole Source Aquifer underlying the site supplies drinking water to at least 50 percent of the area residents; approximately 40,200 people draw drinking water from wells located within a four-mile radius of the site.
Groundwater sampling by the Air Force indicates the presence of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the groundwater, though no water wells currently produce water from contaminated areas. (Courtesy: EPA)
- ASBESTOS (FRIABLE)
- METHYL ETHYL KETONE
- TRICHLOROETHANE (ALL ISOMERS)
Air Force Website excerpt:
During the early 1990s, the Environmental Protection Agency identified the base on the National Priorities List. Since then, Andersen Air Foce Base, Guam, has been mandated by Congress to have a remedy in place for 80 sites by 2014. The sites on Andersen AFB consist of chemical weapons storage areas, landfills, firefighting training areas and other items that can affect the environment through releases or mishaps.
ATSDR has categorized this site asno apparent public health hazard. Due to the proximity of private and municipal wells serving communities in the vicinity ofthe base, Andersen AFB continues to monitor off base groundwater plumes to ensure that these wells do not become contaminated.
- The Air Force installed monitoring wells and has begun to identify groundwater plumes associated with Andersen AFB operations. Limited soil sampling and soil gas surveying has also been conducted.
- Remedial actions are ongoing. In conjunction with Guam and Federal regulatory agencies,the Air Force has identified and implemented remedies at many of the 39 installation restoration program (IRP) sites at Andersen AFB.
- At several of the sites, remedial work is complete or no further action is required. Others are still undergoing investigation andremedial actions will be defined and implemented in the future.
- The Air Force has analyzed terrestrial biota to characterize ecological and human health hazards associated with the bi-accumulation of contaminants in Guam plants and animals.
- The Air Force has monitored and mitigated elevated radon levels in certain on-site housing units.
- The Air Force has removed discarded drums containing asphalt and associated debris from Waste Pile 1.
- Confirmatory sampling indicates that SVOCs and PAHs in soil are below both EPA residential and industrial soil standards and that only relatively low levels of metals exist.
Ongoing and Planned Actions:
- The Air Force will continue its groundwater monitoring program. This program includes monitoring of municipal and private wells.
- The Air Force will continue field investigations to characterize soil contamination at Andersen AFB.
- The Air Force will continue to monitor and mitigate naturally occurring radon levels in on-base housing units.
- The Air Force will continue to investigate any suspected discoveries of CAIS canisters, andassociated contamination as needed. The Air Force has committed to work with territorialand Federal agencies and other DoD branches to ensure a timely and appropriate response to protect the health of Guam residents.
- The Air Force will continue environmental investigations at the Urunao Dump sites, whichare being proposed as IRP 40. If the data warrant, ATSDR will assess potential public healthhazards on adjacent privately held land and modify conclusions in this document as needed.
Here is a sample VA Ruling from 2013 in favor of an exposure victim:
1. Resolving all reasonable doubt in favor of the Veteran, the evidence establishes that the Veteran’s type II diabetes mellitus is due to exposure in service to herbicides to include 2,4-D; 2,4,5-T; TCDD; cacodylic acid; or picloram. | 2. Resolving all reasonable doubt in favor of the Veteran, the evidence establishes that the Veteran’s coronary artery disease, status post coronary artery bypass graft, is due to exposure in service to herbicides to include 2,4-D; 2,4,5-T; TCDD; cacodylic acid; or picloram.
*NOTE: 2,4-D on it’s own is a dangerous, but little-known, herbicide. Civilian Exposure Newslink: 2,4-D – The Most Dangerous Pesticide You’ve Never Heard Of | NRDC
**NOTE: 2,4-D mixed equally with 2,4,5-T is the chemical formula mixture for Agent Orange. As you can see, both items resolved in the ruling above mention exposure to both chemicals, therefore indicating that presence of AO or its components has been acknowledged in VA claim rulings.
EPA Site Manager
EPA Community Involvement Coordinator
Mailing Address for above Contacts:
US EPA Region 9
Mail Code SFD
75 Hawthorne Street
San Francisco, CA 94105
EPA Public Information Center
P.O. Box 22439 GMF
Barrigada, Guam 96921
APA AP 96543-4007
This page will be updated as new information or research becomes available. Sources include: EPA, CDC, ATSDR, Air Force, NPL, VA, GAO.
Other Relevant Links:
- Copy of the 1987 GAO Report: Briefing Report to the Chairman, Subcommittee on Environment, Energy and Natural Resources. Committee on Government Operation & House of Representatives – Hazardous Waste: Abandoned Disposal Sites May Be Affecting Guam’s Water Supply
- EPA Page on Andersen
- Andersen AFB Saves 25 Million With Contamination Cleanup Concept
- Public Health Assessment
- Guam Contamination
- Scorecard Review: Andersen