Naval Research Laboratory, Chesapeake Bay Detachment

Environmental Restoration Program Public Website

Active Installation Restoration Program Sites

Site 3 - Landfill No. 1

Site 3, also referred to as Landfill No. 1 or “Old Junk Row,” is located on the western portion of NRL-CBD. Site 3 was operational from 1942 through 1950 and reportedly consisted of four to six 25-foot by 25 foot by 20-foot-deep excavation pits occupying an area of 3,750 square feet. The landfill accepted three types of waste:

•  Municipal waste (such as household garbage and tree trimming refuse)
•  Shop wastes (such as wooden boxes, cardboard cartons, oily rags, absorbent materials, empty oil cans, lubricant cans, and paint sludges)
•  Non-toxic laboratory waste (such as paper towels, cardboard boxes, and small quantities of waste solvent)s

Once the landfill was filled with refuse to within 4 feet of the ground surface, the remaining space was backfilled with excavated soil to ground surface.

After the landfill was closed, the area was designated “Old Junk Row” and the ground surface was used as open storage for broken-down and inoperative heavy equipment, demolition debris, and out-of-service laboratory equipment used in radar, sonar, and optics research.

In the late 1980s, research buildings were constructed at the site in association with development of the Fire Testing Area. The area occupying Site 3 is currently used as maintained office space consisting of three research buildings (Buildings 301, 307, and 314) and a parking lot.

Site 3 was investigated during the Site Inspection (SI) in 2016, and Expanded SI in 2020. Based on the results of the SI and Expanded SI, Site 3 was recommended for further investigation and is currently in the Remedial Investigation phase.

Site 4 - Landfill No. 2

Site 4, also referred to as Landfill No. 2, is located on the western portion of NRL-CBD. Landfill No. 2 operated from 1950 to 1958. Like Landfill No. 1, Landfill No. 2 reportedly consisted of four to six 25-foot by 25 foot by 20-foot-deep excavation pits occupying an area of 3,750 square feet. The landfill accepted three types of waste:

• Municipal waste (such as household garbage and tree trimming refuse)
• Shop wastes (such as wooden boxes, cardboard cartons, oily rags, absorbent materials, empty oil cans, lubricant cans, and paint sludges)
• Non-toxic laboratory waste (such as paper towels, cardboard boxes, and small quantities of waste solvents)  

Once the landfill was filled with refuse to within 4 feet of the ground surface, the remaining space was backfilled with excavated soil to ground surface. After the landfill was closed, the area was not reused. Currently, the site is a relatively flat, large, open, mowed grassy area.

Site 4 was investigated during the Site Inspection (SI) in 2016, and Expanded SI in 2020. Based on the results of the SI and Expanded SI, Site 4 was recommended for further investigation and is currently in the Remedial Investigation phase.

Site 5 - Landfill No. 3

Site 5, also referred to as Landfill No. 3 or “New Junk Row,” is located on the western portion of NRL CBD. Landfill No. 3 was operational from 1958 through 1968 and reportedly consisted of four to six 25-foot by 25 foot by 20-foot-deep excavation pits occupying an area of 3,750 square feet. The landfill accepted three types of waste:

• Municipal waste (such as household garbage and tree trimming refuse)
• Shop wastes (such as wooden boxes, cardboard cartons, oily rags, absorbent materials, empty oil cans, lubricant cans, and paint sludges)
• Non-toxic laboratory waste (such as paper towels, cardboard boxes, and small quantities of waste solvents)

Once the landfill was filled with refuse to within 4 feet of the ground surface, the remaining space was backfilled with excavated soil to ground surface.

After the landfill was closed, the area was designated “New Junk Row” and the ground surface was used as open storage for assorted debris, consisting of rusted laboratory equipment, heavy equipment, and missile packing crates. Currently, the site is largely wooded with a grass clearing where the former access road was located.

Site 5 was investigated during the Site Inspection (SI) in 2016, and Expanded SI in 2020. Based on the results of the SI and Expanded SI, Site 5 was recommended for further investigation and is currently in the Remedial Investigation phase.

Site 9 – Photo-processing Waste Discharge

Site 9, also referred to as “Photo-processing Waste Discharge,” is associated with a photography laboratory that was housed in former Building 43. Wastewater from the photo-processing laboratory was reportedly disposed of through a drain that discharged to the ground immediately outside the building. This operation reportedly occurred from the late-1950s until the early-1960s and again from the late-1960s until 1975. The photograph laboratory was used once or twice during each year of operation, generating 10 to 15 gallons of waste solution each time. The building has been demolished and the site is relatively level and covered with grass. A 20-foot boundary around former Building 43 was established for environmental investigations; this area likely would include the area of the direct discharge.

Site 9 was investigated during the Site Inspection (SI) in 2016, and Expanded SI in 2020. Based on the results of the SI and Expanded SI, Site 9 was not found to have any potentially unacceptable risks. However, the Maryland Department of the Environment requested additional investigation and sampling, which will be conducted as part of the SI phase.

AOC D – Water Tower

Area of Concern (AOC) D, also referred to as the water tower, is located on the western portion of NRL-CBD. The construction of the water tower dates to 1953 and it remains in use. The water tower has a reported capacity of 400,000 gallons for use as part of the potable water supply for NRL-CBD. Although there are no documented releases from this area, based on the age of the tank, lead-based paint was likely used on the tower surfaces. The ground surface below the water tower has been impacted by lead-based paint falling to the ground during water tower maintenance, and from lead-based paint that has deteriorated and flaked-off over time.

AOC D was investigated during the Site Inspection (SI) in 2016, and Expanded SI in 2020. Based on the results of the SI and Expanded SI, soil at AOC D has been impacted by lead and further evaluation and remediation is recommended for surface soil. The NRL initiated and completed water tower maintenance in 2020 including paint resurfacing. Further sampling and a soil removal action is now being programmed for funding for additional sampling and a lead soil removal action.

Site 10 – Fire Testing Area

Site 10, also referred to as the Fire Testing Area (FTA), is located on the western portion of NRL-CBD. Since approximately 1968, the FTA has been used to test extinguishing agents on fires started with various fuel sources. The tests were conducted by creating a fire on a concrete testing pad and testing fire suppressants including aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF), potassium bicarbonate, halons, and protein foam (“bean soup”). Typically, wastewater containing these solutions was drained into a gravel-lined collection pit and allowed to infiltrate into the soil. In the mid-to-late 1980s, several improvements were made to Site 10, including a new testing pad, a concrete-lined collection pit, and new conveyance piping from the FTA structures to the new collection pit.

More recently, the Navy has been investigating the FTA for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) due to the historical use of AFFF at the site. A groundwater investigation conducted in 2017 confirmed that PFAS were present on-base in the shallow aquifer. Based on the recommendations of the 2017 study, additional sampling was proposed. The FTA is currently in the Site Inspection phase and additional sampling for soil, groundwater, surface water, and sediment was conducted in Fall 2020, and the Site Inspection Report is underway and planned in 2021.

Closed IRP Sites

The Navy and the Maryland Department of the Environment have previously investigated and closed out six sites with No Further Action recommended. AOC B, Site 6, and Site 8 were closed out during the Preliminary Assessment phase as documented in the Basewide Site Inspection (SI) Sampling and Analysis Plan; while AOC C and Site 2 were closed based on the findings of the Site Inspection Report. Site 7 was closed based on the findings of the Expanded SI Report.

Munitions Response Program Sites

MRS 001 – Hypervelocity Gun

Munitions Response Site (MRS) 001, also referred to as the Hypervelocity Low Pressure Gun (HVG), is located on 2.7 acres of land near the western property boundary of NRL-CBD. Construction of the light-gas HVG test facility began in 1962 to support the ballistic missile defense program and was used between 1967 and 1995 to study the impact of high-velocity projectiles on various target materials. Targets were placed in a spherical chamber and a test projectile was fired through the gun into the chamber in a completely enclosed testing environment. The hillside directly behind the gun breach served as a backstop berm for the piston, which was forcibly expelled into the backstop berm when the gun was fired. Because the piston was lead-filled, lead may have affected soils on the range floor behind the gun breach and within the berm. The test projectiles, and targets have been removed, and there is no evidence of munitions and explosives of concern.

MRS-001 was investigated through the Site Inspection and Remedial Investigation (RI) phases. The RI indicated that no unacceptable risks to human or ecological health were identified for soils. However, isolated areas with lead concentrations exceeding action levels are attributed to lead-based paint used on the gun and gun support structures. The Navy plans to remove the gun barrel (support structures have already been removed) and perform additional lead soil sampling. Sample results will be reported in a Feasibility Study (FS). The FS will determine ways to address human health risk from future exposure to soil at MRS-001.

MRS 002 – Randle Cliffs - Zuni Launch Site and Gun Mounts

The Randle Cliffs, Zuni Launch Site, and the Randle Cliffs, Gun Mounts, together make up Munitions Response Site (MRS) 002. The Zuni Launch Site is located along NRL-CBD’s eastern boundary between the toe of Randle Cliffs and the bulkhead shoreline of the Chesapeake Bay. The Zuni Launch Site varies from 20 to 75 feet wide and is about 500 feet long (approximately 0.5 acre). It is the land portion of the former over-water quality control (QC)/research test range, which was first used in the 1960s. Range use was limited to production lot QC testing and research associated with chaff rounds. The Zuni Launch Site was last used in 1992, prior to construction of a pier located directly east-northeast of the site. Prior to 2011, a small building (Building 267, Control Blockhouse), launcher pad and stand, and blast plate remained at the Zuni Launch Site.

The Gun Mounts are located at the top of Randle Cliffs and includes a 5.2-acre land portion of a former land-to-water range. Structures located at the site included gun mounts, gun director platforms, and a blast apron located along a 1,235-foot section of Randle Cliffs. The gun mounts were used for a relatively short period from 1944 to 1948, likely in conjunction with experiments involving gun sighting, as the height and distance to the water of the gun mounts and platforms are similar to those on a large Naval vessel. The areas where the gun mounts, gun director platforms, and blast apron were located are currently used to mount and test radar equipment, although much of the land at the top of Randle Cliffs that existed in the 1940s has been lost due to erosion.

The Zuni Launch Site and the Gun Mounts were investigated through the Site Inspection and Remedial Investigation (RI) phases and the investigations focused on the land portion of the former ranges. The RI indicated that while soil contaminants exceeded background levels, they did not pose an unacceptable risk to human health or the environment. Therefore, the Navy, with concurrence from the Maryland Department of the Environment and after public comment solicitation, signed a Decision Document for No Action for soil at MRS 002.

MRS 003 – Small Arms Range

Munitions Response Site (MRS) 003 is approximately 0.6 acre and located near the southeast corner of the western portion of NRL CBD. The former small arms range was oriented in an east-to-west direction and approximately 30 to 35 yards wide by 50 to 55 yards long. The firing line(s) were located on the easternmost portion of the range. A hill served as the backstop berm and target stands were placed approximately 5 feet in front of the toe of the hill. The backstop berm was a completely vegetated earthen berm. The range was first used in the 1960s for recreational purposes by Navy personnel and civilians. Navy personnel and Department of Defense contract guard forces also used the range for small arms qualification. The range was closed early in the 1990s after failing to maintain military range specifications (that is, adequate separation distances and buffers).

MRS-003 was investigated through the Site Inspection and Remedial Investigation phases and lead was identified in surface soil. A Focused Feasibility Study was completed in 2016 to provide remedial alternatives to address lead-contaminated surface soil. A Proposed Remedial Action Plan was issued in August 2017 with public comment solicited. The Navy, with concurrence from the Maryland Department of the Environment, issued a Decision Document in August 2018, choosing to excavate lead-contaminated soil, disposal at a licensed offsite facility, and backfill the site with clean fill. Soil removal was completed in 2019.

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