2000 CPEO Military List Archive

From: Tony Chenhansa <tonyc@cpeo.org>
Date: Fri, 7 Jan 2000 10:57:20 -0800 (PST)
Reply: cpeo-military

Contact: Amy Miller, EPA Press Office (617-918-1042)
For immediate release: January 7, 2000; Release # 00-01-05


BOSTON - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today for the first
time unilaterally ordered a military base to clean up and remove
unexploded ordnance. In a precedent-setting administrative order issued
today, EPA-New England directed the National Guard Bureau and the
Massachusetts National Guard to remove unexploded ordnance from the
14,000-acre Camp Edwards training grounds at the Massachusetts Military
Reservation (MMR) on Cape Cod.

The National Guard agencies were also directed to clean up contaminated
groundwater, as well as contamination in soil that has not yet reached
the groundwater, but threatens the aquifer.

The order was issued under emergency provisions of the Safe Drinking
Water Act, which protects underground supplies of drinking water, such
as the Cape Cod Aquifer. This order aims to protect the health and
safety of people on Cape Cod, where some 200,000 year-round residents
and 520,000 summer visitors depend on the Cape Cod Aquifer as the sole
source of their drinking water.

Camp Edwards lies directly over Sagamore Lens, the most productive part
of Cape Cod Aquifer. Because the Cape's soil is highly permeable, this
aquifer is particularly susceptible to contamination, which would pose a
significant hazard to the public health.

A study conducted last year by the US Department of Defense (DOD)
estimated that current water supplies will fall short of demand by about
10 million gallons a day by the year 2020. Seven existing public water
supply sources are impacted or threatened by MMR training activities,
and a significant number of potential new sources are impacted or
threatened by contamination to MMR.

"Today's landmark action will mean the improved protection of public
health and the environment for Cape Cod as that community enters the
21st Century," said EPA Administrator Carol M. Browner. "It is another
sign of the Clinton/Gore Administration's strong commitment to
protecting our communities from environmental threats."

An ongoing study of the effects of training on the aquifer has already
found RDX in 20 monitoring wells, and above federal health advisory
limits at 18 monitoring wells. RDX is a highly hazardous constituent
used in explosives and rat poison. Metals above the allowable levels for
drinking water were detected in 40 monitoring wells and herbicides and
pesticides were detected in 31 wells, in one case above federal health

"We must act now to clean up the contamination and prevent any further
damage to the water supply, said John P. DeVillars, EPA's New England
Administrator. "This order will make certain that this is done --
thoroughly and expeditiously."

To date, dozens of live unexploded ordnance have been uncovered simply
through DOD's efforts to site monitoring wells associated with the water
quality study. In addition, more than 1,000 mortar rounds (primarily
inert) were discovered at the only range where an unexploded ordnance
investigation has been conducted to date. There are more than 25 ranges
where unexploded ordnance investigations have not taken place, but which
will be investigated and cleaned up as a consequence of today's order.

The first phase of the cleanup, which involves removing soil
contamination in a half dozen areas, will be done by October of this

"For decades, the Department of Defense has conducted training
activities directly above water resources vital to the people of Cape
Cod,"said DeVillars. "Three years ago the Cape community asked for our
help. As a result, EPA ordered the DOD to cease environmentally damaging
training and to assess the harm that training had caused. Today, we are
telling them to act on what  we have learned from those studies. We need
a comprehensive and expeditious cleanup of the extensive  environmental
damage caused by training activities. This order will achieve that

Since 1911 Camp Edwards has hosted training that included small arms
firing, artillery firing, mortar firing, the burning of propellant bags,
detonation practice for explosives as well as disposal and abandonment
of unexploded ordnance.

The order issued this week follows two other orders issued to the
National Guard by the EPA in 1997. In February of that year, EPA ordered
the Guard to investigate the extent of contamination at the 14,000-acre
military base. And in April of 1997, EPA ordered a stop to much of the
training activities taking place at Camp Edwards.

As a result of investigations, contamination from  explosives,
propellants, metals, herbicides, pesticides,  volatile organic
compounds, semi-volatile organic compounds and unexploded ordnance were
discoveredin the soil and groundwater at Camp Edwards. Munitions and
other materials used on the base until  EPA's 1997 cease-fire order
contained these contaminants.
# # #


Tony Chenhansa,  Program Coordinator
Center for Public Environmental Oversight (CPEO)
425 Market Street 2nd Floor, San Francisco, CA  94105
ph: 415-405-7751 fx: 415-904-7765
e-mail: tonyc@cpeo.org
A program of the San Francisco Urban Institute
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