Allegany Ballistics Laboratory

Environmental Restoration Program Public Website

Environmental Restoration Program (ERP) Sites

An Initial Assessment Study (IAS) was performed at ABL in 1983 to identify and assess Sites posing a potential threat to human health and/or the environment due to contamination from past hazardous materials handling and operations. Nine potentially contaminated Sites were identified during the IAS process (IRP Sites 1 through 9) and an additional four sites were added to the IRP since the IAS (IRP Sites 10 through 13). Seven sites have been closed with no further action required.

The active IRP site locations are shown in the figure, and additional information can be found by expanding the individual Site Descriptions sections below.

Information regarding IRP sites that have since been closed with no further action can be found in the annual Site Management Plan update located in the Administrative Record.

Site Descriptions

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 Site 1: Northern Riverside Waste Disposal Area


Site 1 is situated adjacent to the North Branch Potomac River, along the northern border of the developed portion of Plant 1 at ABL. The site boundary encompasses a total of 13.9 acres with the Active Burning Ground (ABG) consisting of 8.5 acres and the Outside Active Burning Ground (OABG) consisting of 5.4 acres. The ABG is a fenced area currently used for burning reactive wastes and is regulated under a RCRA permit. The burning of reactive material at the ABG began in 1959. Historical disposal of spent acids and solvents generated by plant operations during the 1970s and 1980s occurred in three former disposal pits located in the ABG. Reportedly, trichloroethene (TCE) was the primary spent solvent that was disposed in the pits, which are known to be a source of contamination to groundwater.

The OABG consists of a 5.4-acre parcel outside of the fenced area that was historically used for the disposal of various wastes (demolition debris, drums, and rocket casings), as well as for burning waste and spreading ash from the early 1960s until approximately 1981. The OABG is no longer in use and the area is not included within the boundaries of the active RCRA permit.

Site 1 has been characterized through several investigations and studies since 1983. The results of a Focused Remedial Investigation for Site 1 indicated that volatile organic compounds were the most widespread contaminants detected in Site 1 media, with TCE detected most often and at the highest concentrations in soil and groundwater.

In the early to mid-1990s, management of the environmental remediation of Site 1 was separated in two Operable Units (OU) due to the size and complexity of total site cleanup. Site 1 soil (OU-4) was investigated separately from the groundwater, surface water, and sediment (OU-3). A Record of Decision (ROD) was signed in May 1997 for Site 1 groundwater, surface water, and sediment (OU-3). A ROD was signed in September 2014 for Site 1 soil (OU-4).

The selected remedy for Site 1 OU-3 (groundwater and the surface water and sediment of the North Branch Potomac River adjacent to Site 1) is site-wide alluvial and bedrock groundwater containment (i.e., capture and removal) with subsequent onsite treatment and discharge of treated water to the river. Construction of a groundwater treatment plant was completed in September 1997. Extraction and treatment of contaminated groundwater began in September 1998 and continues today. The plant has treated a volume between 100 and 200 gallons per minute of groundwater extracted from Site 1 since 1998.

Long-term monitoring (LTM) of groundwater, surface water, and sediment have been implemented as part of the LTM program since 1998. LTM activities have been conducted on a tri-quarterly basis, and the results are documented in progress reports. However, LTM activities have been temporarily suspended during the implementation of the Site 1 soil (OU-4) remedial action. The LTM program will be scoped and implemented following the completion of the construction activities related to the Site 1 Soil Remedial Action.

In accordance with the Site 1 OU-4 ROD, the selected remedy for the ABG consists of excavation and offsite disposal of contaminated soil, land-use controls, and long-term management. The remedial action for the ABG was completed in August 2017. The selected remedy for the OABG consists of removal of surface debris, excavation and offsite disposal of contaminated soil, land-use controls, and long-term management. The excavation and soil removal activities at the OABG were conducted from June 2017 to October 2019, followed by site restoration activities, which are expected to be completed in 2020.

Detailed information from previous investigations conducted at Site 1 is available in the Administrative Record.

 Site 5: Inert (Non-Ordnance) Landfill


The Site 5 inert landfill operated from the early-1960s to 1985, accepting inert wastes generated by ABL. The landfill is located on a terrace above the North Branch Potomac River southwest of Plant 1. Inert wastes were defined as wastes neither contaminated with explosives nor generated at an area on the facility where explosives were managed.

Several investigations were performed to evaluate the nature and extent of contamination in environmental media at Site 5. In general, low levels of volatile organic compounds, pesticides, and inorganics were detected in soil samples collected around the perimeter of the landfill. In addition, trichloroethene (TCE) was detected in Site 5 groundwater downgradient of the landfill.

The remediation at Site 5 is managed as two separate Operable Units (OUs). A Record of Decision (ROD) for Site 5 landfill contents and surface soil (OU-1) was signed in February 1997. The selected remedy was an impermeable landfill cap, land-use controls, a landfill gas venting system, and post-closure requirements. Landfill cap construction was completed in September 1997, and landfill operations and maintenance (O&M) is ongoing as specified in the ROD.

The Site 5 human health and ecological risk assessments were revised in 2004 for groundwater, surface water, and sediment based on additional data collected since the initial risk assessments were prepared during the 1994 Phase II Remedial Investigation. A ROD for Site 5 groundwater, surface water, and sediment (OU-2) was signed in February 2006. The selected remedy included installation of a permeable reactive barrier wall filled with zero-valent iron to treat TCE in alluvial groundwater downgradient of the Site 5 landfill. This remedy also included land-use controls and monitored natural attenuation. The permeable reactive barrier was installed in June 2006. A background study to determine iron and manganese concentrations, as well as a TCE investigation are scheduled to take place in fall 2020.

A long-term monitoring (LTM) program for groundwater was implemented in 1998 in addition to the O&M activities of the landfill cap remedy. LTM activities including groundwater sampling are conducted on an annual basis and the results are documented in progress reports.
Detailed information from previous investigations conducted at Site 5 is available in the Administrative Record.

 Site 10: Former Trichloroethene Still and Plant Production Wells A and C


Site 10 (formerly designated as Site Production Well A [PWA]) is an 8-acre area located in the south-central area of the developed portion of Plant 1 at ABL. The Site consists of the area that includes the former trichloroethene (TCE) still adjacent to Building 157, former PWA, and former Production Well C (PWC).

Previous investigations identified contamination in groundwater attributed to historic activities at Building 157 that involved distillation of used degreasing solvents from the former TCE still that operated adjacent to the Building during 1959 and the early-1960s. Because volatile organic compounds (VOCs) were detected in the PWA well as early as 1980, the use of PWA as a water source was discontinued.

Site 10 is being managed as two separate Operable Units (OUs). An Interim Record of Decision (ROD) document for Site 10 groundwater (OU-5) was signed in August 1998. The selected interim remedy for Site 10 groundwater was “hot-spot” groundwater extraction with subsequent treatment and discharge of treated water to the river. A treatment facility was designed and constructed near Site 1 to remove hazardous constituents from the extracted groundwater. The implementation of the interim remedial action at Site 10, which initially included three extraction wells connected to the Site 1 treatment plant, was completed in February 1999.

Subsequent to the implementation of the interim remedial action, aquifer testing and modeling indicated the need for additional extraction wells for the bedrock aquifer at Site 10 to adequately contain contaminated groundwater at Site 10. These changes to the extraction system were implemented in February 2003. This expanded groundwater extraction system was selected as the final remedial alternative for Site 10 groundwater in a ROD signed in September 2005. The fifth Five-Year Review for ABL, finalized in 2018, determined that the groundwater remedy at Site 10 is protective of human health and the environment. However, the Five-Year Review recommended improvement to the existing groundwater remediation system effectiveness. As such, a pilot study began in July 2020 to evaluate the groundwater VOC plume while the extraction system is shut down. Groundwater extraction and long-term monitoring (LTM) continue at Site 10. LTM activities include groundwater sampling every five years, and the results are documented in progress reports.

A Vapor Intrusion (VI) investigation was completed in January 2016. Based on this investigation, a human health risk screening was conducted in 2017 and additional investigations at select buildings to further assess VI is expected to be completed in 2020. Results of the VI investigation will be presented in a forthcoming risk assessment.

Evaluation of soil data concluded that soil at Site 10 does not present an unacceptable risk to human health or the environment. A No Further Action ROD document was signed for Site 10 soil (OU-6) in 2007.

Detailed information from previous investigations conducted at Site 10 is available in the Administrative Record.

 Site 11: Production Well “F”

Site 11 originally consisted of a boiler house (Building 215), fuel oil storage area, and a deep bedrock production well known as F-Well. The original boiler house, built in the late-1950s, was approximately 1,000square feet and housed a single boiler unit. In 1961, F-Well was installed adjacent to Building 215 to provide potable water to Plant 1 as well as to the boiler housed in Building 215. Following its installation, attempts to use F-Well were unsuccessful due to sand flowing into the well through fractures in the bedrock and as a result F-Well was never put into production.

In 1962, an addition was added to the boiler house that doubled its size and the number of boilers. During this expansion, F-Well was covered by the building addition’s foundation. In the late-1980s, the boiler house was decommissioned.

In 1995, an advanced site inspection (ASI) was conducted to characterize potential groundwater and soil contamination in and around F-Well and a former oil pit. Prior to the ASI, the facility removed the former oil pit and any visibly contaminated soil. The ASI identified a limited area of soil contamination and an area of alluvial and bedrock groundwater contamination. Furthermore, light aqueous phase liquid (LNAPL) and dense aqueous phase liquid (DNAPL) were detected in F-Well during a downhole video camera survey and over-drilling activity. The LNAPL and DNAPL were removed during the over-drilling activity.

Several investigations were conducted following the ASI, identifying volatile organic compounds and inorganic contamination in groundwater.

 

A Record of Decision (ROD) for Site 11 was signed in January 2012 (the ROD document was combined for Sites 11 and 12 because of their close proximity to each other and similar contaminants). The selected remedy for Site 11 is focused enhanced anaerobic biodegradation, monitored natural attenuation, and institutional controls. Remedial action at Site 11 took place on November 2012 and included injection of a carbon-containing material to the groundwater to treat chlorinated compounds using enhanced reductive dechlorination, in accordance with the ROD. LTM activities, including groundwater sampling, are conducted on an annual basis, and the results are documented in progress reports.

Detailed information from previous investigations conducted at Site 11 is available in the Administrative Record.

 Site 12: Building 167 SWMUs


Site 12 (formerly designated as AOC N) is located in the northwestern portion of Plant 1, just north of Site 11. Five solid waste management units (SWMUS) are associated with Building 167, which are within Site 12. A list of the SWMUs are provided below.

  • SWMU 12 Former Alodine Treatment Tank

  • SWMU 14 Current Alodine Waste Storage Area I (no longer in use)

  • SWMU 24S Building 167 Satellite Accumulation Area I (outside building)

  • SWMU 37N Building 167 Wastewater Sump

  • SWMU 52 Current Alodine Treatment Tank (no longer in use)

Several investigations have been conducted at these SWMUs and a removal action was performed in November 2000 to remove the wastewater sump located at SWMU 37N, its contents, and potentially contaminated soil immediately surrounding the unit. The results of the investigations and post-confirmatory soil sampling indicated that several inorganic constituents and several organic constituents were present in soil above risk-based screening criteria and in groundwater above risk-based screening criteria.

During subsequent investigations volatile organic compound contamination was discovered in the alluvial aquifer and based upon these investigations it was determined AOC N be designated as a Site 12.

In 2005 a soil excavation with off-site disposal was conducted to address human and ecological risks identified in Site 12 soil. The Remedial Investigation at Site 12 was finalized in 2009. A Record of Decision (ROD) for Site 12 was signed in January 2012 (the ROD document was combined for Sites 11 and 12 because of their close proximity to each other and similar contaminants). The selected remedy for Site 12 is focused enhanced anaerobic biodegradation, monitored natural attenuation, and institutional controls. Remedial action at Site 12 took place on November 2012 and included injection of a carbon-containing material to the groundwater to treat chlorinated compounds using enhanced reductive dechlorination, in accordance with the ROD. LTM activities, including groundwater sampling, are conducted on an annual basis, and the results are documented in progress reports. Additional investigations for the VI pathway at Site 12 are anticipated to be completed prior to the next Five-Year Review.

Detailed information from previous investigations conducted at Site 12 is available in the Administrative Record.

 Site 13: OU 15 Range Road Area


Site 13 (formerly designated as a portion of solid waste management unit [SWMU] 27A) consists of an area of trichloroethene (TCE) contamination in alluvial groundwater, at an area where the SWMU 27A drainage ditch crosses Range Road. The Range Road Area is in the southeastern portion of Plant 1.

The investigations for Site 13 sought to identify the source of TCE contamination, which had sporadically been detected in various outfalls during the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System monitoring program. Because TCE is no longer used at the facility, it was determined that contaminated groundwater near the Range Road intersection was the source of contamination in the drainage ditch. Subsequent investigations identified TCE in groundwater trending to the east-northeast and roughly parallel to the Plant 1 drainage system near the Range Road–H Street intersection.

Though there are no known potential sources of TCE at Site 13, a search of historical information conducted during the Phase III Investigation revealed that there was a boiler (Building 106A) northeast of the Range Road and H Street intersection where degreasing operations dating to 1952 were conducted. No potential source of TCE southwest of the intersection was identified.

A draft combined remedial investigation and feasibility study (RI/FS) at Site 13 has been submitted for regulatory review and is expected to be finalized in 2020.

Detailed information from previous investigations conducted at Site 13 is available in the Administrative Record.

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