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Final Groundwater Cleanup Decision Issued for Portion of Massachusetts Military Reservation

Release Date: 11/02/2006
Contact Information: David Deegan, (617) 918-1017

(Boston, Mass. – Nov. 2, 2006) - A comprehensive plan for groundwater cleanup has been completed for the “Demolition Area 1” site on Camp Edwards at the Massachusetts Military Reservation (MMR). The cleanup plan was finalized and approved by EPA with the review and concurrence of the Massachusetts Dept. of Environmental Protection.

“Selecting a final cleanup plan for one of the largest and most contaminated plumes is a major milestone in our cleanup of Camp Edwards,” said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. “The work called for in this cleanup plan will preserve the sole source aquifer for the citizens of the Upper Cape, and this is a high priority for EPA.”

The final plan addresses contamination found in a groundwater plume that could impact a sole source aquifer for citizens of Upper Cape Cod. The plume is slowly migrating from a 7.4 acre portion of Camp Edwards, approximately two miles northeast of the Otis Rotary in Bourne. The plan builds on an interim clean up action that began in Sept. 2004, in which two extraction wells treat close to a half million gallons of groundwater a day.

EPA’s final cleanup plan outlines how groundwater will be extracted and then treated to remove contamination from explosives and perchlorate. Groundwater will be extracted at a flow rate of 906 gallons per minute, which will then be treated to remove contaminants to below applicable federal and state drinking water standards and risk-based levels. The current levels are: 0.6 parts per billion (ppb) for RDX; 2.0 ppb for TNT; 0.25 ppb for 2,4-DNT; and the Massachusetts standard of 2.0 ppb for perchlorate.

The expanded system will treat 1.3 million gallons a day using three new and two existing extraction wells to pump groundwater through containers of granular activated carbon and ion exchange resin housed in a new treatment facility, to be constructed on base, and an existing modular treatment unit at Pew Road. Treated water will be returned to the aquifer through one new and three existing reinjection wells. This cleanup action is expected to restore the groundwater in approximately 11 years.

The cleanup plan is contained in a “Decision Document” that also includes a contingency for an additional extraction well at the leading edge of the plume if contaminants exceeding cleanup levels are found to migrate substantially further than anticipated in the vicinity of North Pond just northeast of the Otis rotary at the base boundary.

With the signing of the document, the U.S. Army Environmental Center’s Impact Area Groundwater Study Program (IAGWSP) will move forward to complete construction of the cleanup system. System start up is expected in mid-2007. The Decision Document also includes system monitoring to make sure the cleanup is effective and restrictions to prevent groundwater use until cleanup is completed.

A soil response action was undertaken at the Demolition Area 1 site in 2004 to remove the source of the groundwater contamination. More than 28,000 tons of soil were removed and treated on site using thermal desorption, which uses heat to separate and breakdown contaminants in the soil.

The proposed plan outlined in the Decision Document was made available for public review on August 22, 2005. Two meetings were held to present information to community members. The document includes a section called the Responsiveness Summary that provides formal responses to all public comments received during the public comment period. The site was used from the mid 1970s to late 1980s primarily for demolition and disposal of munitions, explosives, fireworks and other items.

Along with extensive background information, the full clean up plan will be posted to EPA’s MMR web site ( The plan will also be posted to an MMR site devoted to clean up issues ( The documents may also be reviewed at the public libraries in Bourne, Falmouth, Mashpee and Sandwich.

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