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EPA Reaches Cleanup Decision for J1 Range and Groundwater Plumes at Camp Edwards

Release Date: 05/31/2011
Contact Information: Jeanethe Falvey, (617) 918-1020

(Boston, Mass. – May 31, 2011) – As efforts to clean up and protect Cape Cod's drinking water continue, the EPA and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts have reached another cleanup decision regarding a former military training and contractor testing area at Camp Edwards on the Massachusetts Military Reservation (MMR). This decision marks a final cleanup strategy for MMR’s J1 Range and its two affiliated “northern and southern” groundwater plumes. Three plumes and multiple soil areas on Camp Edwards await final cleanup decisions.

MMR is a 22,000-acre property that has been used for military training activities since 1911. The base is also located over a sole source aquifer that provides drinking water for residents of Cape Cod. Two environmental cleanup programs (one implemented by the Army, the other by the Air Force), are addressing the areas of soil and groundwater contamination that have resulted from fuel spills and other past activities on site. The U.S. Air Force is addressing contamination from activity at the Otis Air Force Base in the southern portion of MMR under the Federal Superfund Program. The U.S. Army is addressing contamination at Camp Edwards in the northern portion of MMR under the authority of the Safe Drinking Water Act. Both cleanup programs are progressing with oversight from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP).

Military training, munitions testing, and munitions disposal all occurred in the J1 Range located in the southeastern corner of Camp Edwards. Anti-tank and small arms training occurred from 1935 through the mid-1950s. From 1957 through the late 1980s, the area was used for weapons testing. The associated explosives, propellants, and unexploded ordnance (UXO) or munitions and explosives of concern (MEC) left in the soil became the source area for the RDX and perchlorate in the northern groundwater plume, and RDX in the southern groundwater plume. The northern plume is located entirely on-base, and the southern plume extends off-base into Forestdale.

After completing outreach to all area homes, EPA and the Army verified that there are no current public exposure risks from either of the two plumes. All homes in the off-base area of the southern plume are connected to the public drinking water supply. While there are no current impacts to human health or exposure risks at this time, the cleanup will ensure that any potential future risks are addressed. The EPA is working with the MassDEP and the Army to ensure that this groundwater contamination, as well as the other areas of groundwater contamination originating from Camp Edwards, can once again be considered a safe future source of drinking water for Cape Cod.

Based on sampling results, EPA determined that while the groundwater plumes required cleanup, the soil contamination and UXO/MEC had been adequately removed and no further action is necessary at the source areas contributing to groundwater contamination.

The final cleanup decision for both J1 groundwater plumes includes extraction and treatment, long term monitoring to track actual versus predicted contaminant reduction, and land use controls to prevent use of the groundwater and maintain the integrity of current and future monitoring wells and treatment systems. EPA issued the cleanup decision under its Safe Drinking Water Act authority, and the cleanup itself will be performed by the U.S. Army’s Impact Area Groundwater Study Program (IAGWSP).

The J-1 northern plume will be addressed by a pump and treat system with two extraction wells and granular activated carbon and ion-exchange resin treatment. Modeling shows that contaminants would be reduced to risk-based acceptable levels within about 37 years and reach background (pre-existing) conditions after 50 years. The cost for the northern plume cleanup will be about $14,600,000.

The cleanup of the J-1 southern plume will include a pump and treat system with two extraction wells, one pre-existing well on the base property and a new off-base extraction well with granular activated carbon treatment. Contaminants are anticipated to reach risk-based acceptable levels within about 14 years, and background conditions within 20, costing an estimated $4,900,000.

More information:

Monthly public meetings ( are held on or near the MMR with representatives from the EPA, Massachusetts DEP, and the Army and Air Force cleanup programs. The public comment period for this cleanup decision was held from July 19 through August 17, 2010 and several public comments were received and included in the final Decision Document.

EPA cleanup work at MMR (

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