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PCB results discussed at Hill AFB Info Fair

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah -- On Tuesday afternoon, Hill Air Force Base officials, along with environmental and medical experts, discussed with residents the results of the recently completed soil sampling in the northern half of Area F family housing on base.

A second Info Fair, or informational meeting, was held at the Hubbard Golf Course clubhouse to inform the public about what was found in the sampling and details of plans for an additional investigation.

"We recognize that this has been a difficult issue for our families," said Col. Linda Medler, 75th Air Base Wing vice commander, in an opening statement to several news media who attended the Info Fair. "The health of our families has always been our primary concern. We analyze the daily briefings that we receive from our experts to ensure the safety of our residents."

In February, Hill AFB learned that polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were found in a portion of the base housing area. Upon this discovery, Hill officials held an InfoFair inviting all the residents in the housing area to tell them of this discovery and to present a very aggressive sampling plan that would identify if there was a risk to housing residents. In addition, the base notified the Environmental Protection Agency and the Utah Department of Environmental Quality, the two agencies who oversee Hill AFB's environmental clean-up program.

The PCB discovery was limited to an area of Area F housing north of 6th Street on the southwest side of the base. No PCBs were found in other sections of base housing.

"To date, we have taken 180 soil samples in the Area F of housing, and we found either no detection of PCBs or a level that is well below what would pose a health risk or require any sort of cleanup action," said Bob Elliott, 75th Civil Engineer Group Environmental Management Division. "We are pleased with results so far, but we will also begin additional sampling next week."

The second phase of the sampling plan will begin Monday. This plan will build on Phase 1 by taking additional samples near locations where PCBs have been found. Geologists will also sample at depths of up to four feet to learn as much about the area as possible. This phase will take about eight weeks to complete.

"Of the concentrations that we have measured on the base so far, we don't expect to see any health effects at these levels," said Dr. Scott Phillips, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Colorado. "These levels are really quite low, and I think that fact is really important to emphasize. Really, these aren't even close to the concentration levels that would cause reason for concern."

For more information on the PCB sampling conducted at Hill AFB, visit www.hillrab.org/pcb or call Barbara Fisher with the Environmental Public Affairs Program at 775-3652.