Environmental

Allegany Ballistics Laboratory

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Mission Cleanup is an ongoing federal-state partnership that utilizes sound science to “Clean federal land, Protect communities, and Restore land and water to be safely and productively re-used.” This website is part of the active efforts employed by the United States Department of the Navy (Navy) under the Mission Cleanup program to provide accurate, timely, and comprehensive information on the Environmental Restoration Program (ERP) at Allegany Ballistics Laboratory (ABL), Mineral County, West Virginia.

Background

ABL was constructed in 1942 for the Army and used as a loading plant for machine gun ammunition. The Navy took ownership of the facility in 1945. Since 1943, ABL has been used primarily for the research, development, production, and testing of solid propellants and motors for ammunition, rockets, and armaments. Currently, the facility is operated as a highly automated production facility for tactical propulsion systems and composite and metal structures.

ABL is located in Mineral County in the northeastern part of West Virginia, approximately 10 miles southwest of Cumberland, Maryland along the West Virginia and Maryland border. ABL consists of about 1,627 acres of land and is divided into three distinct operating plants. Plant 1 occupies approximately 1,471 acres and is owned by the Navy and leased to a private defense company, herein referred to as the ABL onsite operator, by NAVSEA through a Facilities Lease Agreement (FLA). Approximately 400 acres of Plant 1 (the majority of the developed portion of ABL) is located within the floodplain of the North Branch Potomac River. Plant 2 occupies 65 acres and is owned and operated by the onsite operator. Plant 2 is not included on the National Priorities List (NPL). Plant 3 occupies approximately 91 acres and is owned by the Navy and leased to the onsite operator by NAVSEA through the (FLA). Plant 3 is not in the floodplain of the North Branch Potomac River. It is situated at the base of Knobley Mountain. This land has not been previously developed.

Environmental History

The Plant 1 portion of ABL was added to the NPL on May 31, 1994. The NPL is the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (USEPA’s) list of the high-priority hazardous waste sites. The responsibility for funding and carrying out environmental restoration at ABL rests with the Navy. The Navy is completing these activities in coordination with USEPA Region III and West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP), under a Federal Facilities Agreement (FFA), which was finalized in January 1998.

The environmental condition of ABL is being investigated through the Navy's Installation Restoration Program (IRP). The IRP is being conducted in accordance with The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) as amended by the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act and other applicable federal and state environmental regulations and requirements. Eight IRP sites are referenced in the FFA findings of fact for further investigation under CERCLA (i.e., Sites 1, 2, 3, 4B, 5, 7, Production Well “A” (PWA) [Site 10], and 11). Two Sites (Sites 4A and 9) were closed out in the FFA. Four additional Sites have been identified but are not included in the FFA (i.e., Sites 6, 8, 12, and 13). Site 6 was closed out in February 2002 by a Closeout Report. Solid waste management unit (SWMU) 27A Range Road Area was identified as Site 13 Operable Unit (OU) 15 in 2008.

The Site Management Plan (SMP) for ABL is updated annually and serves as a management tool for the Navy, USEPA, and WVDEP to plan, schedule, and set priorities for environmental remedial response activities to be conducted at ABL. A comprehensive list of active Sites, SWMUs, and Areas of Concern (AOCs) at Plant 1 documented in the FFA (and later added), their status, and anticipated additional activities, where appropriate, may be found in the SMP.

Sites are generally broken up by media type into distinct OUs to streamline site investigation and cleanup efforts. The following OUs and associated media types have a signed Record of Decision (ROD) and remedy in place: Site 1 OU-3 (groundwater, surface water, and sediment); Site 1 OU-4 (soil); Site 5 OU-1 (surface soil, landfill contents) and Site 5 OU-2 (groundwater, surface water, and sediment); Site 10 OU-5 (groundwater); and Sites 11 (OU-11) and 12 (OU-8) groundwater. The Site 1 OU-4 (soil) ROD was completed in September 2014, and the remedial action was completed October 2019. Site 13 OU-15 (groundwater) is the only remaining Site under investigation with a remedy to be documented in a pending ROD. The environmental response is complete for Sites 2, 3, 4B, and 7 through a No Further Action ROD.

The fifth statutory Five-Year Review for ABL Plant 1 was signed by the Navy on August 10, 2018; and the USEPA provided formal concurrence on August 23, 2018. The purpose of the Five-Year Review is to evaluate the effectiveness of remedies in place and ensure that these actions are providing adequate protection of human health and the environment. Remedies in place at Sites 1, 5, 10, 11, and 12 were reviewed, and the findings are presented in the Five-Year Review Report.

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