Side view of the front of a stealth bomber
B-2 Stealth Bomber

Whiteman Air Force Base (AFB) is located in Johnson County, nine miles east of Warrensburg, in west central Missouri. Whiteman AFB is named in honor of Second Lt. George A. Whiteman, who was the first Airman killed during the assault on Pearl Harbor in 1941. The Army Corps used the base as a glider training base during World War II. After the war, the base was put on inactive status until 1951, when it was reactivated and incorporated into the U.S. Air Force, the newest branch of the U.S. military. Since then, it has served as both a bomber base and a missile base. 

Today, the base includes approximately 4,677 acres of land, which is a combination of government-owned, leased and easement land. The base is currently home to the 509th Bomb Wing and is the only home of the B-2 Advanced Technology Bombers. The 509th is a unit of the Air Force Global Strike Command, supporting its mission to “develop and provide combat ready forces for nuclear deterrence and global strike operations…” For more information and photos, visit the U.S. Air Force's Whiteman Air Force Base.

Missouri Department of Natural Resources’ Role

Missouri Department of Natural Resources staff provide regulatory oversight and support cleanup activities at multiple contaminated sites by reviewing and commenting on documents and proposed work plans, and by participating in annual landfill inspections.


MoDNR Project Manager: 573-751-3907


The Problem

Daily operations at Whiteman AFB have resulted in approximately eight contaminated sites.

Contaminants of Concern

Contaminants of concern include petroleum products and waste, chlorinated solvents, unexploded ordnance, low-level radioactive waste, metals, pesticides and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). There is also an emerging contaminant, perfluorooctane sulfonate.

What’s Been Done

Of the eight active sites, seven sites have remedies in place, and one site is currently under investigation. Due to daily activities on base, institutional controls are in place to prevent the construction of drinking water wells. Some buildings may be subject to vapor intrusion from subsurface contaminants.

The department discovered a new site while performing groundwater sampling on a fuel spill site. 

What’s Left

Whiteman AFB will undergo continual monitoring of active sites where the residual contaminants remain above unlimited use and unrestricted exposure status. These sites are subject to five-year reviews to determine if the remedy is, or will be, protective of human health and the environment.

  • Site investigation phase is in beginning stages, starting with perfluorinated compounds in groundwater at areas with a history of fire training, where fire-fighting foam may have been used
  • Next five-year review will reassess the protectiveness of the remedy where recent vapor intrusion studies have indicated risk to human health exists
  • Remedy needs to be selected for newly discovered carbon tetrachloride contaminated site


Site Description

Whiteman AFB is located nine miles east of Warrensburg, in west central Missouri. The base encompasses approximately 4,677 acres of land that is a combination of government-owned, leased and easement land. The base is currently home to the 509th Bomb Wing and is the only home of the B-2 Advanced Technology Bombers.

The Problem

Contaminants of concern at Whiteman AFB consist of petroleum products and waste, chlorinated solvents, unexploded ordnance, low-level radioactive waste, metals, pesticides and polychlorinated biphenyls. The environmental investigation at Whiteman AFB started with a basewide Phase I records search in 1984, which identified 13 sites that required further investigation. In the latter half of the 1980’s, more sites were discovered, bringing the total up to 44 sites that required further investigation. As cleanup work progressed, sites that were deemed fit for closure dropped the number of active sites down to eight.

The department's laboratory detected chlorinated solvents at a recent groundwater-sampling event at a known fuel spill location. The discovery led to further investigations that concluded the main contaminant at this area of the site is carbon tetrachloride. 

Environmental Restoration

The U.S. Air Force is conducting the cleanups under the Defense Environmental Restoration Program (DERP). A large majority of the original sites requiring further investigation were closed with no further response actions required. Three sites were merged into one, and one site is still in the feasibility study stage. There are eight remaining contaminated sites on base. These sites consist of five landfill sites, two spill sites and a fire training area. For more information about the environmental restoration progress at Whiteman AFB, see the following documents: 

What’s Left

The U.S. Air force conducts annual monitoring of active sites, which includes reviewing groundwater data and visual inspection of the physical site where residual contaminants remain above levels that allow use of the property for any purpose with no institutional or engineering controls. The five landfills are subject to annual inspections for compliance and optimization, as required by site-wide institutional controls. Annual inspections for compliance and optimization determine if the site is being maintained properly and how well the institutional controls are working.

The eight sites that have active remedies in place are subject to five-year reviews. While institutional controls are in place, five-year reviews are conducted to evaluate the protectiveness of remedial actions where hazardous substances, pollutants or contaminants remain above levels that allow for unlimited use and unrestricted exposure. Five-year reviews will continue until the site meets unlimited use and unrestricted exposure status.

  • Recent vapor intrusion studies indicate risk to human health, which has led to uncertainty in the protectiveness of one of the site’s remedies. Remedy reassessment will be part of the next five-year review. The next five-year review is currently in process. 
  • A groundwater site investigation for perfluorinated compounds has begun at areas with a history of fire training.
  • A remedy will need to be selected for the newly discovered carbon tetrachloride contaminated site. 

Community Involvement 

The U.S. Air Force implemented a proactive community relations program to inform the public and address issues that may arise during the environmental restoration process at Whiteman AFB. The Whiteman AFB Community Relations Plan, March 2002 identifies community concerns and outlines community relations activities that will be conducted during the environmental restoration process. The overall goal of the plan is to help the U.S. Air Force meet the needs of the community by providing factual and timely information, encourage community involvement, obtain community feedback, answer questions and promote understanding about the environmental restoration program at Whiteman AFB. Changes may have occurred in the community since the current community involvement plan was written. Community members may be interviewed as part of information collected during this review period.

Public notices are issued to notify the community of an upcoming five-year review, and again at the completion of the five-year review. Public notices are published in local news sources such as the Warrensburg Daily Star Journal, the Sedalia Democrat or the Whiteman Warrior. The information repository for the Whiteman AFB, which contains additional site information, the five-year review report and the community involvement plan for the site, is located a the Trails Regional Library's Knob Noster Branch, 202 N. Adams, Knob Noster.