Army sets cleanup goals for Camp Edwards

By GEORGE BRENNAN | Cape Cod Times, Hyannis, Mass. | Published: January 11, 2013

CAMP EDWARDS — The Army cleanup program at Camp Edwards has an ambitious schedule laid out for its efforts to rid groundwater beneath the base of contaminants caused by decades of military misuse.

At a meeting Wednesday of the Massachusetts Military Reservation Cleanup Team, Ben Gregson, technical program manager, provided an overview of what has been done by the Army Impact Area Groundwater Study Program to date and outlined significant steps to come in 2013 — including an expected final decision on how to deal with the largest concentration of contaminants beneath a swath of land known as the Central Impact Area.

That area, 330 acres used from the 1930s to 1997 for artillery and mortar firing, has a toxic plume of Royal Demolition Explosives, or RDX, that is nearly eight times greater than the federal health advisory of 2 parts per billion and perchlorate that's five times above the state's acceptable levels of 2 parts per billion for drinking water.

The Army's plan is to have a treatment system constructed and operational by December, Gregson said.

Mobile treatment systems will be used, which makes the cleanup efforts more flexible, he said.

The treatment follows several years of clearing away unexploded munitions and 15,000 tons of tainted soil.

Meanwhile, the Army also expects to have a remedy in place by September for a plume known as Demolition 1, which has migrated 1,000 feet beyond the base boundary into a neighborhood in Bourne. The military has installed monitoring wells in that area but has run into roadblocks on private property, such as a nearby trailer park, Gregson said. "(Access) continues to be a challenge," he said.

Gregson did assure that no private wells are being used in that neighborhood for drinking water and that a well being used by a landscape company has tested negative for contaminants.

A treatment system is also planned in 2013 for the so-called J-1 northern plume, and a remedy could be approved by environmental regulators for the J-2 Range by September, Gregson told the cleanup team.

Overall, the Army program is currently treating 2.4 million gallons of groundwater per day and has removed and treated 120,000 tons of soil.

The Army program is just one of two massive cleanup programs at the Upper Cape base. Both are monitored by the Environmental Protection Agency and state Department of Environmental Protection.

The Air Force Civil Engineer Center, formerly known as the Air Force Center for Environmental Engineering, has all of its treatment systems in place and is in the monitoring phase, Jon Davis, remedial cleanup manager, said during Wednesday's meeting.

The restoration program has been in place for 30 years and recently reached the milestone of treating 61 billion gallons of water, Davis said. The contaminants of concern for the Air Force program are different — mostly focused on cleaning up jet fuel or solvent spills in 14 separate plumes.

"These remedies could change if the remedy in place is not performing as it should be," Davis said.

Both the Army and Air Force programs are also in the process of conducting mandatory five-year reviews, Davis said.

Lynne Jennings, cleanup team manager for the EPA, proposed moving the panel's meetings from six times a year to quarterly — adding in meetings, if needed, to provide public comment periods. She also suggested that the team's agendas stay focused on cleanup issues and not stray into training and other initiatives at the base that are not part of its mission.


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