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EPA FINDS PUMP and TREAT SYSTEM NECESSARY FOR GROUNDWATER CONTAMINATION AT MMR

Release Date: 12/08/1998
Contact Information: EPA FINDS PUMP & TREAT SYSTEM NECESSARY FOR GROUNDWATER CONTAMINATION AT MMR

Boston - In a letter to Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for the Environment, Safety and Occupational Health, Thomas McCall, EPA's New England Administrator John P. DeVillars again rejected Monitored Natural Attenuation as a sole solution for treatment of the groundwater contamination caused by the Massachusetts Military Reservation's main landfill called Landfill 1 or "LF-1." EPA, instead, stated its support for a modified pump and treat system, known as Alternative 3E, which requires installation of active treatment in the areas of higher chemical concentration in the LF-1 plume located in the northern and southern lobes. The modified system has been endorsed by EPA's technical experts and has received broad community support. The landfill source itself was capped several years ago as part of a separate action.

DeVillars also called on the Air Force to institute a comprehensive monitoring program in conjunction with implementation of Alternative 3E. This monitoring data will be used to ensure that the modified system is performing as expected and to assess the effectiveness of monitored natural attenuation, a natural environmental process that breaks down certain contaminants, in the LF-1 plume.

DeVillars urged McCall and the other natural resource trustees to seriously consider a recent proposal by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as a down payment for water supply mitigation measures for additional water supply capacity and interconnection of the Upper Cape's systems over the next three years.

"The Commonwealth's proposal is a good, reasonable first step in repairing the damages to natural resources caused by groundwater contamination," said DeVillars. "In my judgement, the Natural Resource Trustees, the water superintendents from the affected communities and the Department of Defense should meet quickly to resolve any outstanding issues and move forward to put it into action."

In a letter dated October 22, 1998, DeVillars reserved judgment on a final decision for the LF-1 plume for 45 days but instructed the Air Force to proceed with design of an active treatment system to ensure that deadlines for startup of the LF-1 remedy would not be jeopardized. In addition, he called upon the Air Force and the natural resource trustees to begin discussions on compensation for any damages caused by base contamination to natural resources. Mr. DeVillars also sent letters to the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Department of Veterans' Affairs urging them to sign the Natural Resource Trustee Council Memorandum of Agreement. This agreement provides the framework for the trustees to assess the extent of injury to natural resources, such as groundwater, and the means of compensating for such injury. The Department of the Interior (DOI) has since signed the charter. A meeting of the trustees is being scheduled for the week of December 14, 1998.