The Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) continues to work with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) on ongoing cleanup actions at the Naval Industrial Reserve Ordnance Plant (NIROP) where previous practices resulted in environmental contamination. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including trichloroethylene (TCE), have been found in the groundwater and soil at the site at levels requiring cleanup action.
As part of site manufacturing operations, chlorinated solvents, also known as VOCs, were used as degreasers for metal parts. The primary VOC used at NIROP was TCE. Standard industrial handling, storage, and disposal practices for chemicals such as TCE were not as protective of the environment in the past as they are now. During the long history of industrial operations at the NIROP, VOCs were leaked, spilled, or disposed of on-site resulting in contamination of the soil and groundwater until the 1980s.
The Navy, USEPA, and MPCA have been working together on the environmental cleanup program at NIROP since the early 1980s. With team approval, the Navy constructed a groundwater treatment system that continues to protect both human health and the environment by containing VOCs on site. To date more than 4.3 billion gallons of groundwater has been treated to remove more than 30,000 pounds of VOCs, and the Navy continues to evaluate ways to improve the system. In addition, 2,200 cubic yards of soil and 97 drums of waste have been removed and disposed of safely off site in approved facilities.
The NIROP building was constructed in 1940-1941 and included the 140 acres to the south currently known as the BAE complex. The facility was used in the early 1940s to produce naval guns for the expanding war effort. At this time, the property was owned by the government and operated by Northern Pump Company. The US Navy purchased the 36.6-acre building and the land north of building in 1947. This is the area currently known as the NIROP site. FMC Corporation purchased the southern portion of the 140-acre property in 1964. The Navy sold its interest in the NIROP building in 2004, and the current owner is ELT Minneapolis LLC. Although the Navy no longer owns the NIROP facility, the Navy continues to have responsibility for the lead cleanup of the NIROP site. FMC/BAE Corporation is legally responsible for cleanup of the remaining area.