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1996 News Releases



Release Date: 10/28/1996
Contact Information: Johanna Hunter, Community Involvement, (617) 918-1041 Mike McGagh, TAG Program Manager, (617) 223-5534

BOSTON--- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today it was awarding a $50,000 technical assistance grant (TAG) to the Association for the Preservation of Cape Cod (APCC) for oversight of cleanup activities at the Massachusetts Military Reservation.

"This grant gives Upper Cape citizens an independent expertise to ensure that the cleanup at MMR is on - and stays on - the right course," said John P. DeVillars, EPA's New England administrator. "This is a critical and opportune time for APCC and its advisors to weigh in and we're glad they will. We need them at the table."

The TAG program was established in 1986 as part of the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA). The grant provides concerned citizens the opportunity to hire independent technical experts, such as toxicologists, chemists and biologists, to help them interpret complex technical data and site hazards, and become more knowledgeable on the investigations and cleanup work at Superfund National Priorities List sites. EPA New England has awarded 31 grants.

Prior to submission of the proposal for a Technical Assistance Grant, the APCC sent letters to numerous local organizations, inviting interested groups to be part of a coalition to be formed. The five groups that expressed interest in participating are: Coonamessett Pond Association, Lochstead Association, Cape Cod Group of the Sierra Club, League of Women Voters of Falmouth and the Woods Hole Research Center.

As described in the proposal, having received the award, it is APCC's plan to form a Steering Committee (SC). The SC will oversee all aspects of the project, emphasizing educational services to the citizens of the Upper Cape.

The Massachusetts Military Reservation site covers approximately 21,000 acres. The MMR has been used by many military organizations since the 1930's when the base was first built. Most of the industrialized activities associated with military use occurred in the southern portions on the reservation. The MMR property abuts the Towns of Bourne, Falmouth, Mashpee and Sandwich.

A review of past and present operations and waste disposal practices identified numerous potentially contaminated areas. Fire training areas, base landfill, fly ash disposal area, sewage treatment plant, and coal yards are all examples of contaminated source areas. Materials typically found at contaminated locations include waste solvents, waste oils, fly ash, bottom ash, herbicides, and transformer oil. In 1983 and 1984, the Air Force detected volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in on-site monitoring wells near the base landfill and current fire training area. In 1989 MMR was added to the Environmental Protections Agency's National Priority List of Superfund sites.

To date, ten plumes of contaminated groundwater emanating from the MMR have been discovered and are continuing to migrate one to two feet a day. Several town and private wells have been contaminated. MMR has aided the towns in providing alternative drinking water supplies to local residents. The MMR, under the leadership of the Air Force, also has in place an Installation Restoration Program responsible for identifying and cleaning up MMR's hazardous waste contamination.

For more information on the MMR's cleanup program, contact the MMR Public Affairs Office at (508) 968-4678. For those Cape Cod citizens interested in joining the TAG effort, contact APCC at (508) 255-4142.