Toxic Chemical Clean-Up Now Underway At Malmstrom Launch Facilities
Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC) announced that the initial efforts to rid launch facilities at Malmstrom AFB of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are underway and showing positive results.
Polychlorinated Biphenyls Found At Malmstrom
The survey, carried out in July, involved the collection of 900 surface swipe samples from Missile Alert Facilities (MAFs) and Launch Control Centers (LCCs) across AFGSC's command.
These samples were primarily taken from high-contact areas and locations where equipment known or suspected to contain PCBs had been historically or was currently installed.
What The Study Found
Of the samples, an encouraging 92.5 percent (832) exhibited no PCB presence, while 7.1 percent (64) showed negligible PCB levels below the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) mitigation standards.
Only 0.44 percent (4) of the samples indicated PCB levels exceeding EPA standards, with two such instances occurring at Malmstrom and Minot Air Force Bases.
Col. Gregory Coleman, AFGSC Command Surgeon, emphasized the challenging nature of PCB cleaning, highlighting that PCBs remain imperceptible to human senses at the levels found within these facilities.
We know they’re present on what appear to be otherwise pristine surfaces due to the survey results, but the only way to know our cleaning process was a success is by retesting each surface and sending the samples away to the lab. Then we wait two weeks to see if the cleaning was a success.
Col. Coleman also emphasized the importance of avoiding the dispersion of PCBs during the cleaning process, as some methods risk spreading contaminants rather than effectively removing them.
Their collaborative efforts led to a unique cleaning regimen involving a mineral oil wash followed by a solvent scrub, effectively reducing PCB surface contaminants, sometimes rendering them non-detectable.
Gen. Thomas A. Bussiere affirmed that the cleanup and mitigation efforts would persist until he is confident that AFGSC Airmen have a secure and healthy work environment.
These results are a positive step toward the clean and safe work environment our Airmen deserve. We will continue with the cleaning and mitigation as more results come to us from the USAFSAM survey, and we will be open and transparent with those results and our efforts.
In addition to PCBs, USAFSAM is also sampling for other potential contaminants, including radon and pesticides from agricultural runoff.
For more information about PCBs, visit: EPA PCBs Information
For further details on the Missile Community Cancer Study, visit: Missile Community Cancer Study
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