Allegany Ballistics Laboratory (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 1,675 acres of land and is divided into three distinct operating plants. Plant 1 occupies approximately 1,577 acres and is owned by the Navy and leased to the ABL on-site operator by NAVSEA through . Approximately 400 acres of Plant 1 (the majority of the developed portion of ABL) is in the floodplain of the North Branch Potomac River. Plant 2, which occupies 57 acres, is owned and operated ABL on-site operator. Newly constructed Plant 3, which occupies approximately 41 acres is owned by the Navy and leased to its operator, the ABL contractor, by NAVSEA through a Facilities Lease Agreement. 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.
The Plant 1 portion of ABL was added to the National Priorities List (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 (SARA) 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 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 in February 2002 by a Closeout Report. 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 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. Site 13 groundwater is the only remaining Site under investigation with a remedy to be documented in a Record of Decision (ROD). Site 1 groundwater, surface water, and sediment, Site 5, Site 10, and Sites 11/12 have a ROD and remedy in place. Site 1 soil ROD was completed in September 2014 and the remedial action is currently in progress. 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 is currently in progress. 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 are being reviewed and the findings will be available to the public in October 2018.