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Aberdeen Proving Ground (Michaelsville Landfill)

EPA Region 3 (Mid-Atlantic)

Harford County

EPA ID# MD3210021355

2nd Congressional District

Last Update: January 2015

Other Names

USA Edgewood Arsenal
US Coast Guard - Pool Island Range
US Coast Guard - Upper Chesapeake Range

Current Site Status

In June of 2001 EPA and the Army signed a Final Close-out Report for the Michaelsville Landfill.  The Landfill (Operable Units 1&2) was the only portion of the Aberdeen Area on the National Priorities List. The site was capped and is in the long term monitoring phase.  Under RCRA/CERCLA integration, the Federal Facilities Agreement requires APG to address nine other Operable Units. Eight RODs have been issued for these nine remaining active operable units.

Operable Unit 3 - The Western Boundary Area Harford County Wells - ground water contamination from a Fire Training Area was investigated, a ROD issued and construction completed.  The ROD required construction of a new groundwater treatment plant for Harford County production wells was made the summer of 2000 and construction was finished in August 2003.

Operable Unit 4 - White Phosphorous Area - A barge with a large amount of white phosphrous rounds was reportedly sunk offshore.  After extensive investigations did not find the area, the search was abandoned and a No Further Action ROD was issued.

Operable Unit 5 - Western Boundary Fire Training Area Contaminated Soil - A removal of soils contaminated chlorinated solvents was completed.  The contaminated soil was the source of the ground water contamination addressed by Operable Unit 3.

Operable Unit -6 - Six ground water plumes were investigated, a ROD was issued and a remedial action was selected to address the contamination in the six plumes using enhanced bio-treatment. The system was constructed and was successful in reducing the chlorinated volatile organics in the ground water plumes.  System is back online.

Operable Unit 7- Six geographically separate areas of sediment contamination were addressed by a Record of Decision which selected excavation and offsite disposal as the remedial action.  The removal has been completed, the areas have been backfilled and revegetated.

Operable Unit 8 - A pistol range and a rifle range were investigated and a ROD was issued for excavation of lead contaminated soil, solidification with a phosphate mineralizer and offsite disposal.  Bullets were separated and recycled. Land Use controls restrict land use to industrial activities.  Twenty three small area which were suspected of contamination were investigated and need only land use controls on residential use or no action.

Operable Unit 9 - The Swan Creek Dump and the Woodrest Creek dump were investigated and a Record of Decision issued.  The remedial action for the Swan Creek Dump was excavation of a small amount of lead contaminated soil, stabilization of the southern swale with geo-cell and rock, ground water and sediment monitoring, and Land Use Controls.  The remedial action for the Woodrest Creek was the installation of a two foot soil cover over the dump, a constructed wetlands at the toe of the dump as transition area between the dump and Woodrest Creek, monitoring and Land Use Controls.  All site construction is completed and is in the long-term monitoring stage.

Operable Unit 10 - The Shell Washout Area cleaned munitions and produced an explosives contaminated pond and a ground water plume containing low levels of TNT.  After investigation, a Record of Decision selected excavation of the explosives contaminated sediments which will be sent offsite and ground water monitoring.  The excavation of sediments and all other work was completed and a Final Remedial Action Completion Report was signed by EPA in September 2011.

Operable Unit 11 - This may be the last ROD needed for the Michaelsville NPL Site.  This ROD will address the ground water plume containing low levels of perchlorate, all soils and sediments in the Western Boundary Area and several old landfills. The final ROD will address all the remainder of sites in the Western Boundary Area. A remedial Investigation addendum is underway to further characterize the landfills.

In addition to the above areas, Vapor Intrusion investigation began December 2014 across the Michaelsville Area. Environmental investigation of munition response sites at the Aberdeen area is also underway under the Military Munitions Response Program (MMRP).

Site Description

The Michaelsville area in Harford County, Maryland consists of 17,000 acres, including the 20-acre Michaelsville Landfill, and numerous known or suspected solid waste management units that may be sources of contamination. This Army testing Base has operated since 1918 and contains firing ranges, impact areas, vehicle test tracks, a fire training area, and laboratories in support of the testing activities. The Michaelsville Landfill operated as a sanitary landfill from the 1970s until 1980. The landfill received household garbage and refuse from the installation. The Michaelsville area is bordered on the west by the Bush River and to the northeast and south by the Chesapeake Bay. The area is drained by seven creeks plus the Bush River. There are 38,600 people living within 3 miles of the site. Residences located on the Michaelsville area of the site house military personnel and dependents. Harford County and town of Aberdeen have water supply wells on the A.G. property, near the site boundaries.  People who come in direct contact with or accidentally ingest contaminated groundwater, surface water, soil, or sediments may be at risk.  Preliminary groundwater and surface water sampling has identified various heavy metals, phosphorous, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and explosives.  Soil is contaminated with pesticides and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), VOCs and petroleum hydrocarbons.
Site Responsibility
Cleanup of this site is the responsibility of the federal government.
NPL Listing History
This site was proposed to the National Priorities List of the most serious uncontrolled or abandoned hazardous waste sites requiring long term remedial action on April 10, 1985.  The site was formally added to the list October 4, 1989.

Threats and Contaminants

People who come in direct contact with or accidentally ingest contaminated ground water, surface water, soil, or sediments may be at risk.  Over two decades of testing ground water and surface water sampling has identified various heavy metals, phosphorous, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).  Soil is contaminated with pesticides and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), VOCs and petroleum hydrocarbons risk of bioaccumulation of contaminants in the food chain. Contaminants have been found in the Harford County water supply wells, and in the City of Aberdeen supply wells.

Contaminant descriptions and risk factors are available from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, an arm of the CDC.

Cleanup Progress

Actual Construction Underway

 All construction has been completed, including the removal action at the Shell Washout Area that was completed in early 2011.  Additionally, any work that needs to be done pursuant to the upcoming ROD for the Western Boundary Area will still need to be done before the site is completed.


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