Chanute AFB is back in the news this week. According to the latest report, officials have publicly stated that “it is known that chemical warfare training took place” on the base. They are now planning various searches and testing for leftover storage containers and will determine if any groundwater contamination occurred as a result.
“We can’t rule out the fact that there might be harmful materials still buried in the ground there.”
Are there other bases where chemical warfare agents have been deployed and used, buried and forgotten? Just what types of chemicals are our military bases? From degreasers to solvents, chemical agents to firefighting foam, military bases are proving to be much more toxic than anyone could have imagined.
We’ve compiled information from a variety of sites to give you a digest of what transpired at Chanute. These sources include various government, science and independent journalism sites such as the EPA Superfund site, the CDC, Illinois state government and others.
Chanute Air Force Base (AFB) was an Air Force training facility located in the east-central Illinois Village of Rantoul. The property has been divided into two operable units, Operable Unit 1 (OU-1) and Operable Unit 2 (OU-2), containing a total of 81 environmental sites. This division was made to prioritize property for expedited transfer, and was based on the assumption that properties within OU-1 contained a limited number of sites subject to remedial investigation and action pursuant to the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980, as amended (CERCLA or Superfund).
Hazardous materials commonly used at Chanute AFB included aviation and motor fuels; numerous petroleum products such as motor oil, lubricants, and hydraulic fluids; and cleaning solvents. Hazardous wastes generated at Chanute AFB included waste oils and fuels, oil/water separator sludge, solvent residues, and other chemical wastes. At the time of base closure, the base’s hazardous wastes were collected from all storage and designated accumulation points and disposed off-site at a permitted facility.
Primary sources of hazardous substances involved oil-water separators, underground storage tanks, fuel distribution lines, firing/skeet ranges, fire training pits, sludge pits or a combination of these items; and Landfills 1, 2, 3 and 4, containing wastes as described below:
- Landfill 1 (operated from 1941 through 1960) received residential garbage, paper, wood, metal, aircraft parts, un-rinsed pesticide containers, construction/demolition debris, and various shop wastes, including solvents.
- Landfill 2 (operated from early 1950s through 1967) received the same types of waste as Landfill 1. Four 55-gallon drums containing 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) and/or 2,4,5-trichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4,5-T) and 50 one-ounce wax-encased sealed containers of zinc phosphide may have been disposed in Landfill 2. Leachate sampling later revealed the presence of 2,4-D but not 2,4,5-T.
- Landfill 3 (1967 to 1970) received residential garbage, shop wastes, and possibly the four 55-gallon drums of 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid and/or 2,4,5-trichlorophenoxyacetic acid. Again, leachate sampling later revealed the presence of 2,4-D but not 2,4,5-T.
- Landfill 4 (1970 to 1974) received residential garbage, shop wastes, and construction/demolition debris.
Wastes were sometimes burned at all four landfills and then deposited at depths ranging from 6 to 10 feet. Base operations and waste disposal activities contaminated soil, sediment, leachate, and groundwater with hazardous materials.
Here’s an artistic video representation of the abandoned halls of Chanute AFB:
Here’s a video about a reporter’s experience with potential cover-up in Rantoul:
Finally, here’s another video from the WAND News I-Team: “Chemicals At Old Air Force Base?” –
Relevant Research Links:
- Chanute Air Force Base – the Air Force’s Legacy of Lies in the Heartland
*Special thanks to Ms. Linda K May, BS,RN,BSN for her assistance in providing helpful links/documentation.
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