EPA ID# WAD980833065
EPA Region 10
Pierce County

9th Congressional District

Other Names: McChord AFB Area "D"
Last Update: April, 2010

Hide details for Site DescriptionSite Description

The American Lake Gardens site is located in a semi-rural residential community with a population of approximately 3,000. The site occupies approximately square mile west of McChord Air Force Base(AFB) and north of the Fort Lewis Military Reservation. This site was the first of two McChord AFB sites listed on the National Priority List (NPL). The second site was the Washrack Treatment Area, which has since been deleted from the NPL.

In 1983, a resident contacted EPA about family health problems believed to have been caused by drinking contaminated water. EPA and the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department sampled nearby drinking water wells and found high levels of metals and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including trichloroethylene (TCE) and dichloroethylene (DCE). Contamination is believed to have come from Area D of McChord AFB, which contains former landfills now covered by the base’s golf course.

Site Responsibility: This site is being addressed through federal actions. The Air Force is the lead agency for cleanup at American Lake Gardens. The State of Washington Department of Ecology is the lead regulatory agency.

NPL Listing HistoryDates
Proposed Date:09/08/1983
Removed Date:
Withdrawal Date:
Final Date:09/21/1984
Deleted Date:

Hide details for Threats and ContaminantsThreats and Contaminants

Media Affected: Groundwater
The shallow groundwater is contaminated with VOCs, including TCE and DCE. Contaminated shallow groundwater poses a threat only through direct contact or accidental ingestion. The Base’s water supply is not threatened since it is obtained from a deeper groundwater source.

Hide details for Cleanup ProgressCleanup Progress

Early Actions: In 1985, contaminants were found in monitoring wells located in American Lake Gardens. The Air Force subsequently provided bottled water to the residents of American Lake Gardens affected by well contamination. By 1993, all American Lake Gardens’ residences had been connected to a public water supply at the Air Force's expense.

Long-Term Actions: In 1991, the Air Force selected a site remedy that involved construction of a groundwater treatment system. The system was selected because it was capable of simultaneously preventing contamination from migrating and treating the extracted groundwater. Other components of the remedy were long-term monitoring and institutional control that prohibited the use of contaminated groundwater. The active remedy includes three pumping wells that extract contaminated groundwater for treatment. In 2000, sample analysis data showed that the groundwater in a portion of the contaminated aquifer was clean enough so that one of the wells could be placed on a standby "non-pumping status." There are now two wells extracting groundwater for treatment.

The treatment system has been operating since it was constructed in 1993. American Lake Garden will continue receiving their drinking water from the public water supply until groundwater cleanup goals have been reached. This site was designated "construction complete" on September 29, 1994.

Since contaminants have been left in place since the remedy was selected, the base is required to conduct a five-year review of the remedy to ensure that it remains protective of human health and the environment. The base completed the five-year review report in March 2000 and both EPA and the Washington State Department of Ecology agree that the remedy remains protective.

During the year 2000, contaminated concentrations in groundwater were reduced to allow one of the three pumping wells, designated as DX-1, to be turned off. This allowed the remaining two pumping wells and the treatment system to more efficiently reduce the contaminant plume.

Hide details for Regional ContactsRegional Contacts

SITE MANAGER(S):Mike Kuntz(Wa. state)(360) 407-7239
E-MAIL ADDRESS:Bill Myers, (Air Force Contact) (253) 982-3913

Nancy Harney (EPA Contact)
Information pertaining to this site is housed at the following location(s):
Tacoma Main Public Library (Administrative Record)
Northwest Room
Tacoma, WA