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Written By: Robert King, Esq.
Legal Review By: Mike Stag, Esq.
The Fort Bliss Water Contamination Lawsuit is an active lawsuit
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Fort Bliss Water Contamination Lawsuit Overview

The history of Fort Bliss goes back to the 1860s when it was seized by the Confederates before occupation by Californian Union troops. The base was flooded by the Rio Grande, relocated, rebuilt, abandoned, and then revived in 1878 as a permanent post. It housed several infantry and cavalry units until it was relocated again in 1863 to its current location. From 1902 to 1910, Fort Bliss transitioned from an infantry station to one of the biggest cavalry posts in the country. It was a cornerstone defense base, helping secure the border during the Mexican Revolution and acting as an operating base for the 1915-1916 Punitive Expedition. Fort Bliss was where some of the Army’s first motorized vehicles were tested and played an instrumental part during World War II and the Cold War. The base has faced shifting priorities and expansions to get where it is today, serving as one of the largest military posts, primarily used for fire training exercises. 

Military activity at Fort Bliss has contributed to contamination concerns in El Paso, Texas. The use and disposal of harmful products and substances introduced contaminants into soil and groundwater at the base, therefore impacting drinking water quality. One of the largest drinking water contaminants at Fort Bliss is per- and poly-fluorinated substances (PFAS), which are found in firefighting foams used by the military for decades. These chemicals build up in the body over time and cause serious illnesses, including kidney cancer, thyroid cancer, bladder cancer, pancreatic cancer, and thyroid disease. Veterans, family members, and others who have developed illnesses related to PFAS-contaminated water may be eligible to file a lawsuit as a result of their wrongful exposure.

Fort Bliss Water Contamination Lawsuit Updates

April 2024 – Veterans File Fort Bliss Water Contamination Claims

Fort Bliss veterans can join thousands of others in filing water contamination claims against chemical companies responsible for creating products with PFAS. King Law is reviewing claims where individuals were exposed to toxins at military bases like Fort Bliss and later developed illnesses like kidney cancer, thyroid cancer, thyroid disease, bladder cancer, or testicular cancer. Now is the time to reach out, schedule a consultation, and determine your eligibility. 

April 2023 – Texas Environmental Groups Sue EPA for Poor Water Standards

In April 2023, more than a dozen environmental groups filed a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) because of poor water quality standards. Under the Clean Water Act of 1972, the EPA is supposed to reevaluate pollution limits but has not done so. Some pollution standards haven’t been updated for 30-40 years. Environmentalists seek action to improve water equality, particularly in Texas where waterways are full of toxins exceeding pollution limits that likely need to be much lower than they are.

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Background of Toxic Exposure at Fort Bliss

June 2023 – Final Preliminary Assessment Shows Extensive PFAS Contamination 

A Final Preliminary Assessment and Site Inspection for PFAS at Fort Bliss published in June 2023 confirmed extensive contamination. PFAS samples were higher than OSD Risk Screening Levels at the following locations: 

  • Fire Station 1 
  • Fire Station 2 
  • Fire Station 3
  • Fire Station 4 
  • Fire Station 5
  • Fire Department Foam Testing Area 
  • SWMU 21 McGregor Range Camp Fire Fighter Training Area 
  • SWMU 31 Fire Fighter Training Area
  • Aircraft Hangar Building
  • 2006 Diesel Spill Response East of Building 11385

Aqueous film forming foam (AFFF) was used, stored, and disposed of at these areas. AFFF is the suspected source of PFAS contamination at Fort Bliss. 

2022 – PFAS Remedial Investigation Initiated With Anticipated End Date in 2027

The Army initiated a Remedial Investigation to determine the extent of PFAS contamination at Fort Bliss in October 2022. Its current status is listed as “Underway” with an estimated completion date of 2027. 

2019-2020 – PFAS Detected in Groundwater and Private Wells

The Army conducted a Preliminary Assessment in 2019 with 28 areas of interest for PFAS contamination. A site inspection took 28 samples, four of which exceeded screening levels or warranted further investigation. This triggered the sampling of residential wells near the affected groundwater and within directional flow. One of the wells tested above the EPA’s Lifetime Health Advisory. 

2015: Arsenic Contamination Found From Fort Bliss Landfill

A 2015 property assessment found arsenic and lead soil contamination above screening levels, triggering a 90% removal of a landfill at Biggs Army Airfield. 

2014-2020 – EWG Tap Water Database Shows Multiple Contaminant Exceedances 

The EWG’s Tap Water Database 2021 Update for the years 2014-2020 shows 30 total contaminants (14 exceeding EWG Health Guidelines) for the Fort Bliss Main Post Area and 16 total contaminants (6 exceeding EWG Health Guidelines) for the Fort Bliss Biggs Army Airfield. Arsenic was the biggest contaminant of concern at 863x the EWG Health Guideline for the Main Post Area and 1,376x the EWG Health Guideline for the Airfield.

June 2013 – Radiation Discovered at Former Nuclear Weapons Bunker

In June 2013, Texas Army investigators shared that they found evidence of radiation from a former nuclear weapons bunker utilized primarily in the 1950s and 1960s by the Air Force. Concerns arose regarding exposure to those working in the bunker and to those living in nearby residential neighborhoods. According to news reports, Fort Bliss Spokesperson Major Joe Buccino said that the contamination hadn’t seeped into groundwater and that “the water is normal and safe.” However, he also acknowledged, “We are unable to assess the level of risk.” 

2001 – Multiple Contaminants Capped & Left in Soil

Waste from a dry cleaning facility at Fort Bliss contaminated soil with tetrachloroethylene (PCE), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOC). The site was closed off and capped but the toxins were left in the soil, susceptible to migration. 

2000 – Monitoring Continues After PCB Contamination From Oil Pits

Eight pits at Fort Bliss were used to dispose of petroleum, oil, lubricants, solvents, heavy metals, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). The pits were in operation from 1964-1974 with contamination concerns extending into 2000 when investigations looked for potential groundwater flowing from the site. The site was closed in 2000, and the soil contamination was left in place.

Fort Bliss Water Contamination Map

Fort Bliss is located in New Mexico and Texas with its headquarters situated in El Paso, Texas. It includes over a million acres of land and includes four different zip codes. The base itself underwent many different expansions and renovations to hold numerous housing complexes, dump sites, landfills, fire training areas, and more. Airfields and fire training areas were often areas where PFAS-containing firefighting foam was used, starting the spread of contamination. Landfills and dump sites are also areas of interest where solvents, fuel, and other harmful chemicals were put into the ground, putting soil and groundwater quality at risk. 

Contaminants Found in Fort Bliss Drinking Water

While each toxin in Fort Bliss drinking water poses its own set of health risks, combined, the contaminants highlight the plethora of health conditions military veterans and their families face. 

Arsenic at Fort Bliss

Arsenic levels have exceeded EWG health guidelines by 1,375x at Fort Bliss Biggs Army Airfield and by 863x at Fort Bliss Main Post Area. Long-term exposure to arsenic in drinking water, even at low levels, can increase your risk of diabetes, bladder cancer, lung cancer, liver cancer, respiratory disease, skin problems, and cognitive issues. 

PFAS at Fort Bliss

PFAS, a group of more than 12,000 types of “forever chemicals,” has also been a big concern at Fort Bliss, at military bases in Texas, and at military bases across the country. Recently, EPA Administrator Michael Regan said, “Drinking water contaminated with PFAS has plagued communities across this country for too long.” 

Exposure to PFAS in drinking water is associated with kidney cancer, thyroid cancer, thyroid disease, pancreatic cancer, bladder cancer, testicular cancer, reduced vaccine effectiveness, lowered immune response, and more. Long-term exposure increases these risks. 

Other Contaminants at Fort Bliss

Other contaminants of concern in Fort Bliss drinking water include: 

  • VOCs: Linked to respiratory issues, bladder cancer, multiple myeloma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, nervous system issues, liver damage, kidney damage
  • SVOCs: Linked to nervous system issues, immune system damage, reproductive disorders, cancer 
  • Heavy metals (in addition to arsenic): Linked to anemia, chronic toxicity, liver damage, kidney damage, intestinal issues, cancer 
  • Disinfectants: Linked to bladder cancer, intestinal cancer, liver damage, kidney damage, nervous system problems, birth defects

Current Water Quality at Fort Bliss

The Fort Bliss military website acknowledges that Fort Bliss drinking water currently meets the EPA’s 2016 Lifetime Health Advisory of 70 ppt. However, it’s important to note that the EPA recently issued interim updated health advisories for PFOA at 0.004 ppt and 0.02 ppt, which are substantially lower than 70 ppt. In addition, individuals have been exposed to PFAS and other contaminants in base drinking water for decades. 

Water Treatment Efforts at Fort Bliss

Fort Bliss’ drinking water supply undergoes typical water treatment and filtration efforts. Additional methods to get rid of PFAS have not yet been established. Remedial Investigation is still listed as underway and cleanup efforts have not yet been initiated.

Health Risks Connected to Drinking Water at Fort Bliss

There are numerous health risks and symptoms associated with the toxins found in Fort Bliss drinking water, including increased risk of: 

  • Anemia
  • Birth defects 
  • Bladder cancer 
  • Breast cancer
  • Chronic toxicity
  • Diabetes
  • Immune system damage
  • Hodgkin’s and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Kidney cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Liver damage 
  • Multiple myeloma 
  • Nervous system issues 
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Reduced vaccine effectiveness 
  • Reproductive disorders 
  • Respiratory issues 
  • Skin problems 
  • Testicular cancer 
  • Thyroid cancer 
  • Thyroid disease 
  • Ulcerative colitis 

Our firm is currently reviewing cases that involve diagnoses of the illnesses in bold.

Eligibility Criteria for Fort Bliss Water Contamination Lawsuit

To be eligible for a Fort Bliss water contamination lawsuit, you generally must meet the following requirements: 

  1. Toxic exposure of at least six months: We typically look for claimants to have at least six months of exposure to a toxin like PFAS to build a substantial case. Duration of exposure can have a direct impact on the success of your lawsuit. 
  2. Diagnosis of a related illness: You must have a diagnosis related to your toxic exposure. For example, PFAS exposure is related to illnesses like bladder cancer, kidney cancer, liver cancer, and other life-threatening conditions. So, one of these diagnoses can solidify your PFAS claim

Our law firm is currently evaluating cases where individuals have been diagnosed with:

  • Bladder Cancer
  • Breast Cancer
  • Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
  • Kidney Cancer
  • Leukemia
  • Liver cancer
  • Multiple-Myeloma
  • Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
  • Pancreatic Cancer
  • Prostate Cancer
  • Testicular Cancer
  • Thyroid Cancer
  • Thyroid Disease
  • Ulcerative Colitis

By contacting us, you can schedule a no-obligation, free consultation to confirm your eligibility for a Fort Bliss claim.

Fort Bliss Water Contamination Settlement Amounts

The exact amount of compensation you’ll receive from a Fort Bliss water contamination claim depends on the specifics of your case. We anticipate these types of lawsuits to settle at around $250,000 on average. However, this can range from $30,000-$500,000. If you have a strong case with a plethora of evidence and a severe diagnosis, you could be eligible for a payout closer to $1,000,000. 

Keep in mind: Your attorney may encourage a settlement or recommend you go to trial. While trial verdicts can result in higher payouts, they may take longer to resolve and put you at risk of receiving nothing at all should the ruling not go in your favor.

How to File a Fort Bliss Water Contamination Lawsuit

If you’re interested in filing a Fort Bliss water contamination lawsuit, the process typically entails: 

  1. Schedule a consultation with an experienced attorney to confirm your eligibility and initiate the process. 
  2. Gather all possible evidence to support your claim, such as medical records, doctors notes, military directives, discharge paperwork, water quality reports, and more, as deemed appropriate by your attorney. 
  3. Be available for questions as your attorney files your claim on your behalf in the appropriate court. They will ensure your claim details your exposure, related injury, and who you deem responsible for your wrongful exposure. 
  4. Consider your attorney’s advice to pursue a settlement or trial verdict. Regardless, the process can take several months or longer to resolve. 

Evidence to Support Your Fort Bliss Claim

Your attorney may recommend the following evidence to support your Fort Bliss water contamination claim:

  • Medical records confirming your diagnosis 
  • Other medical documentation showing your symptoms, prognosis, and treatment plan
  • Copies of military orders, directives, discharge paperwork, etc that details when you were stationed at the military base 
  • Proof of water contamination during your time at Fort Bliss such as water quality reports, public statements, or witness testimonies 

Evidence is crucial to the support of your case, so lean on your attorney to ensure you have the proof you need.

Statute of Limitations for Fort Bliss Water Contamination Claims

The statute of limitations for filing a Fort Bliss water contamination lawsuit varies by state. However, certain factors can impact this deadline. Confirm with your attorney to ensure you don’t miss your opportunity to file.

Fort Bliss Water Contamination Lawyers

Environmental litigation can be tricky to navigate. However, there are attorneys who have years of experience to help you through the process, such as we do at King Law. Our background in toxic torts and cases involving exposure at military bases allows us to provide an unmatched level of advocacy and support as we file your claim. Whether you’re ready to file or are just starting to explore your options, we’re here to answer any questions you may have. Call, email, or schedule an in-person consultation today. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Get answers to questions you may have regarding Fort Bliss water contamination and how to file a claim. 

Is Fort Bliss water safe to drink?
Fort Bliss water has tested positive for numerous unsafe contaminants that can cause cancer and other serious illnesses.
What are the toxins in Fort Bliss?
Fort Bliss toxins include arsenic, PFAS, VOCs, SVOCs, and disinfectants.
Is Fort Bliss a Superfund site?
Fort Bliss Air Defense Center does have a Superfund site profile.
What is the lawsuit on Fort Bliss?
Military veterans, their families, and other civilians are filing lawsuits against chemical manufacturers responsible for drinking water contamination at military bases like Fort Bliss.
What are the environmental issues in Fort Bliss?
Military activity at Fort Bliss has led to soil and groundwater contamination at and around the base, particularly as it pertains to PFAS from firefighting foam.
What are the deadlines for filing a claim in the Fort Bliss lawsuit?
While deadlines to file a Fort Bliss lawsuit can vary, statute of limitations are state-specific and can vary based on the circumstances of the case.
What types of health problems are linked to the Fort Bliss water contamination?
The contaminants in Fort Bliss water may lead to kidney cancer, testicular cancer, bladder cancer, thyroid cancer, thyroid disease, and other serious illnesses.
What evidence do I need for my claim in the Fort Bliss lawsuit?
You need proof of your time at Fort Bliss, your toxic exposure, and your diagnosis of a related illness to file a Fort Bliss lawsuit.
How long will the Fort Bliss lawsuit process take?
Fort Bliss water contamination lawsuits can take several months or longer, so you should contact an attorney as soon as possible to initiate the process.
What steps should I take if I was affected by the Fort Bliss contamination?
In addition to contacting a health care provider when you develop symptoms of a condition related to water contamination, you should schedule a consultation with an attorney who handles environmental law.
What kind of compensation can I expect from the Fort Bliss lawsuit?
Fort Bliss settlements may pay out anywhere between $30,000 and $500,000.
What is the average payout for the Fort Bliss lawsuit?
Based on similar lawsuits, we anticipate the average settlement for a Fort Bliss contamination case to be around $250,000.
How much is the Fort Bliss settlement per person?
Fort Bliss settlements can be as low as $30,000 or as high as $1,000,000 depending on the strength of the case.
Is PFAS in Fort Bliss water?
Yes, PFAS has been detected in Fort Bliss water.
What steps has Fort Bliss taken to address the PFAS contamination?
Fort Bliss continues to take water samples to monitor for PFAS contamination.
What are the main contaminants found in Fort Bliss's drinking water?
Arsenic, PFAS, VOCs, SVOCs, and disinfectants have all been found in Fort Bliss drinking water.
Who is eligible for the Fort Bliss water contamination lawsuit?
Individuals exposed to a toxin for at least six months and who have developed a related illness may be eligible for a Fort Bliss water contamination lawsuit.
How can individuals affected by the Fort Bliss water contamination file a lawsuit?
Individuals should schedule a legal consultation to determine their eligibility for a Fort Bliss lawsuit, while also beginning to collect evidence of exposure and medical illness.