Schilling Air Force Base

Site Background

The former Schilling Air Force Base is a Formerly Used Defense Site (FUDS) located in southwest Salina, Kansas. The base was originally built as the Smoky Hill Army Airfield in 1942, and was used during World War II as a processing and staging area for heavy bombardment units going overseas, including B-17 and B-29 aircraft. In 1946 the name was changed to the Smoky Hill Air Force Base, and it served during the 1950's Korean conflict as a base for the Strategic Air Command and the 310th and 40th Bombardment Wings. In the late 1950's and early 1960's, the air force base underwent significant renovations resulting in the construction of a 12-silo Atlas F intercontinental ballistic missile complex, modifications to prepare for the next generation of aerial bombers and tankers, and another name change, the Schilling Air Force Base (Schilling AFB). The base was deactivated between 1965 and 1967; it is now used for the Salina Regional Airport and industrial, aviation, military, and educational facilities.

An aerial photograph showing the two long airport runways. The base buildings are on the right-hand side.

An aerial photograph of the Smoky Hill Army Air Field in 1943.

An aerial photograph showing the same long runways as the 1945 photograph; the built-up area is now much larger than the former air force base.

The Salina Municipal Airport in 2012.

The Salina Airport Authority (SAA), Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE), the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) have conducted numerous environmental investigations and some limited remedial actions at the Schilling AFB Site since the mid-1990's. Contaminants of concern include volatile organic compounds (VOCs), semi-volatile organic compounds, and metals, which have been identified in soil and groundwater above their respective EPA maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) and KDHE Risk-based Standards for Kansas (RSKs). KDHE is also investigating the presence of perfluorinated chemicals (PFOS and PFOA), which are emerging contaminants. The former Schilling AFB Site has been divided into three Operable Units (OUs) based on the level of contamination and the highest potential risk to human health and the environment. OU-1 encompasses the northeastern portion of the former base, which now includes part of the Salina Regional Airport, Kansas State University-Salina, Salina TECH, various industrial and commercial businesses, and residential properties. OU-2 includes the southeastern portion of the former base and fire training area, which currently contains part of the Salina Regional Airport, Kansas National Guard Training facility, Schwans Plant, other various industrial and commercial businesses, and residential properties. OU-3 includes the western portion of the former base, runways, three former landfills, and other miscellaneous areas.

Activities between 1999 and 2012 were performed by USACE with KDHE oversight and included: removal of numerous underground storage tanks, installation of an air stripper at the Salina Vo-Tech School sump pump, vapor intrusion evaluation at select locations, a Remedial Investigation (RI) and Baseline Risk Assessment for OU-1, and long-term groundwater monitoring, At the conclusion of the USACE's RI, it was determined additional assessment was warranted in addition to completing a Feasibility Study (FS) to evaluate appropriate cleanup alternatives.

Current Investigation and Path Forward

In 2012 the Salina Public Entities (City of Salina, SAA, USD 305, and Kansas State University) negotiated a settlement with the USACE to complete the Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study (RI/FS) scope of work under the oversight of KDHE. The Final RI work plan was submitted to KDHE for review and approved in August 2014. The Final RI Report was approved on June 18, 2018. The Feasibility Study Report was approved in November 2018..

A grey pickup truck, marked Dragun, and a red truck with a tall white drilling structure mounted on its bed.

Photo taken during the Remedial Investigation in 2015. Photo courtesy of Dragun Corporation.

A yellow drilling machine with a tall tower and tracks, a concrete truck with a red cab, and a small front-loader putting dirt into a dump truck.

Soil removal using large diameter augers. Photo courtesy of Dragun Corporation.

The Human Health Risk Assessment (HHRA), which quantitatively describes the potential excess human health risk posed by the Site in the absence of remediation, was approved on March 23, 2017. An addendum to the HHRA that evaluated the risk posed by PFOS/PFOA was approved on April 4, 2018.

The Final Groundwater Modeling Report was approved June 13, 2018. Groundwater models are computer models of groundwater systems that are used to simulate flow, contaminant fate and transport, and other hydrological conditions that are present at the Site.

Community Involvement

KDHE prepared a Community Involvement Plan (CIP) to outline the Agency's community outreach program. KDHE is committed to promoting communication between the public and the Agency, and wants to make sure the community's concerns and information needs are considered as project activities progress. Ongoing input and involvement by citizens in the Salina community is essential for project success.

KDHE solicited public comments regarding a Draft Corrective Action Decision (CAD) document describing the proposal for cleanup from April 8 to May 8, 2019. A public availability session and hearing took place on May 1, 2019, to give the public an opportunity to ask questions and provide comments on the Draft CAD. The Final CAD was signed on July 29, 2019.

Additional Information

For additional information, please contact:

Site Documents

Portions of these reports may have been removed in order to make them web-ready. Complete copies are available by contacting James Hayes or at SCHILLING AFB (PARENT SITE).