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Schofield Barracks, Schofield Hawaii

by Civilian Exposure

The following is information on Schofield Barracks in Hawaii. Schofield Barracks was found to have had groundwater contaminants in the past and exposure could have been dangerous for veterans and civilians alike. Anyone who drank this water or came into direct contact with it could be at risk for problems such as neurological disorders, diabetes, and cancer, as well as birth defects in children because of these contaminants.

We work to compile information from various agencies and sites to ensure that this information remains in the public eye in the event that it may be removed from the web in the future. This information is a collection of insights and info from various sources such as the EPA, Superfund site records, CDC, Hawaii historical news reports and more.

Overview of Schofield Barracks, Schofield Hawaii

The 17,725-acre Schofield Barracks site was established in 1908 to provide a base for the Army’s mobile defense of Pearl Harbor and the entire island. Industrial operations involved maintenance, repair, painting, and degreasing, all of which required using various organic solvents. In 1985, the Hawaii Department of Health informed the Army that high levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) contaminated wells that supply drinking water to 25,000 people at Schofield Barracks. In 1986, the Army began removing the contaminants from the water by using an air stripping facility. Most of the area around the barracks is rain forest. Approximately 55,000 people in Wahiawa and Mililani obtain drinking water from public wells located within three miles of the base. Three miles downstream of the base is Wahiawa Reservoir, which is used to irrigate 3,000 acres of pineapple fields. The reservoir also is used for recreational activities. The site was delisted from the National Priorities List (NPL) in 2000 after the Army completed all work necessary to protect human health and the environment.

Civilian Exposure - Schofield Map - Hawaii

Environmental Setting and the Effects of Natural and Human-Related Factors on Water Quality and Aquatic Biota, Oahu, Hawaii — By: Delwyn S. Oki and Anne M.D. Brasher


The Schofield area of central Oahu is hydrologically connected to adjacent freshwater-lens and dike-impounded systems, but the ground water in the Schofield area may be neither a freshwater-lens nor a dike-impounded system. Ground water moves from areas of higher water levels to areas of lower water levels, which generally corresponds to flow from inland, rift-zone areas toward the ocean. Ground-water levels on Oahu are highest in the rift zones where recharge is high and the regional permeability is low. Water levels in the Waianae and Koolau rift zones, respectively, are as high as 1,600 and 1,000 ft above sea level. Ground water in the rift zones discharges to streams, the ocean, or to adjacent, down-gradient ground-water areas.

The Schofield groundwater area is formed mainly by Koolau Basalt, although Waianae Volcanics is present in the western part. Ground-water levels in the Schofield area are about 275 ft above sea level (Dale and Takasaki, 1976), which is considerably higher than the water levels of up to a few tens of feet in the adjacent freshwater-lens systems to the north and south. The Schofield area is separated from adjacent freshwater-lens systems to the north and south by low-permeability features that may be related to dikes or buried ridges, although the geologic origin of these barriers is not fully understood. These barriers are commonly referred to as ground-water dams (Dale and Takasaki, 1976). Water levels within the barrier areas range from about 130 to 275 ft above sea level and are transitional between the Schofield area and the adjacent freshwater-lens systems. The Schofield groundwater area receives recharge from the adjacent Koolau and Waianae rift zones; the water that is not withdrawn from wells then flows to the north or south across the northern and southern Schofield ground-water barriers, and recharges the freshwater- lens system in the north-central and southern groundwater areas (Oki, 1998). – USGS Water Resources Investigative Report 2003

Contaminants of Concern
CAS ## Contaminant Name Contaminated
Area of Site Found
(Operable Unit)
More Information
79-01-6 TCE Ground Water GROUNDWATER (02) ATSDR Profile

While TCE in groundwater is the main historical concern pre-2000, there are also recent rumblings in various info archives starting around 2010 that speak to potential for exposure to DU (depleted uranium). We’ll dig further into this in a separate report. For this report, we focus on TCE groundwater contamination, as it is the most prevalent contaminant for a period of time at Schofield, and also perhaps the most prolific contaminant in groundwater at bases around the US and overseas during the past 50+ years.

Other organic compounds including trichloroethylene (TCE), tetrachloroethylene (PCE), and carbon tetrachloride have been detected in ground-water samples on Oahu (Giambelluca and others, 1987; State of Hawaii, 1999a), although the source of these contaminants generally is uncertain. TCE is used as a dry-cleaning agent, metal degreaser, solvent, refrigerant, heat-exchange liquid, fumigant, and anesthetic (Verschueren, 2001), and has been detected in numerous wells in central Oahu since 1985 (Giambelluca and others, 1987; State of Hawaii, 1999a). PCE is used as a dry-cleaning agent, metal degreaser, and solvent, and in the manufacturing of paint removers, printing inks, trichloroacetic acid, and fluorocarbons (Verschueren, 2001), and has been detected in wells in central Oahu and the Honolulu area (Giambelluca and others, 1987; State of Hawaii, 1999a; State of Hawaii, 2001b). Some of the ground water that is contaminated with TCE and PCE and that is withdrawn from the Schofield ground- water area for military use is treated with an aeration system. Carbon tetrachloride, which is used as a solvent, extractant, metal degreaser, and fumigant, and is also used in dry-cleaning operations and the manufacturing of refrigerants, aerosols, propellants, and chlorofluoromethanes (Verschueren, 2001), also has been detected in wells in the Schofield ground-water area (Giambelluca and others, 1987; State of Hawaii, 1999a). – USGS Water Resources Investigative Report 2003


Schofield Barracks installed an air stripping treatment system that reduces the amount of Trichloroethylene (TCE) in drinking water from 40 parts per billion to less than 1 part per billion. – Environmental Cleanup: Too Many High Priority Sites Impede DOD’s Program
(Letter Report, 04/21/94, GAO)

  • RAOs: Reduce level of TCE contamination to drinking water standards only at point of use. A technical impracticability (TI) waiver was prepared, which supports the idea of point-of-use treatment. Because of the TI waiver, the cleanup goals apply only at the wellhead and not throughout the aquifer.
  • Technologies Applied: Point-of-use treatment
  • MCLs Achieved? No, because water is only being treated at the point of use
  • ICs in Place? Yes. There are prohibitions on the use or disturbance of groundwater, prohibitions on excavation activities, disturbance of the landfill cover, and any other activities that might interfere with the implemented remedy.
  • Vapor Intrusion: Not mentioned
  • Long-Term Monitoring? No
Site Status

A third Five-Year Review, completed in August 31, 2012, concluded that the landfill and groundwater remedies are functioning properly,


Site Details

EPA #: HI7210090026
State: Hawaii(HI)
County: Oahu
City: Wahiawa, Oahu
Congressional District: 02

NPL Listing Final as of 2000

Site Contacts

The most complete collection of documents is the official EPA site file, maintained at the following location:
Superfund Records Center
Mail Stop SFD-7C
95 Hawthorne Street, Room 403
San Francisco, CA 94105
(415) 820-4700

EPA Site Manager
Mark Ripperda

EPA Community Involvement Coordinator
David Yogi

EPA Public Information Center

State Contact
Steven Mow

PRP Contact
Carrie Nelson

Site Documents
Technical Documents


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1 comment

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[…] She believes it stems from her days as an Army specialist from 1991 to 1995 at the Kunia “Tunnel” Field Station near Schofield Barracks. […]


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