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Letterkenny Army Depot, Property Disposal Office

Current Site Information

EPA Region 3 (Mid-Atlantic)

Pennsylvania
Franklin County
5 miles north of Chambersburg

EPA ID# PA2210090054

3rd and 9th Congressional District

Last Update: January 2013

Other Names


Property Disposal Office Area PDO

Current Site Status

The Army completed the 2nd five-year review for the PDO Area in September 2012. The purpose of the five-year review is to determine whether the remedies at a site continue to be protective of human health and the environment. The Operable Units (OUs) included in the five-year review report are OUs 1, 3, 6, and 7 (described in detail in the cleanup section of this report). The Army concluded that these remedies are in fact protective, and the EPA and Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) concurred.

The final remedies for OUs 2, 4, 5, and portions of OU 6 have not been selected. However, all Remedial Investigations (RIs) and Feasibility Studies (FSs) have been completed for these OUs. RI and FS reports for these OUs have been reviewed and approved by EPA and PADEP. The Army is currently preparing Proposed Remedial Action Plans for these OUs. These OUs are also described in detail in the cleanup section of this report.

Site Description

The Letterkenny Army Depot was originally a 19,243 acre Army facility, most of which is devoted to ammunition storage (16,614 acres). It is located 5 miles north of Chambersburg, Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Approximately 17,000 people live within 5 miles of the Letterkenny Army Depot.

The Letterkenny Army Depot was established in 1942 for ammunition storage. Since 1947, activities at the Letterkenny Army Depot expanded to include the testing, maintenance, and overhaul of wheeled and tracked vehicles and missiles; the storage and transportation of industrial chemicals and petroleum; and storage, maintenance, demilitarization, and modification of ammunition. The PDO Area includes areas associated with the storage and disposal of industrial chemicals and petroleum. The PDO Area site also encompasses areas covered under Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) corrective action investigations, including areas associated with the storage, maintenance, demilitarization, and modification of ammunition that are located in a section of the facility commonly referred to as the Ammunition Area (AA).

The Depot was included in the 1995 Base Realignment and Closure Act (BRAC), with approximately 1,462 acres designated for transfer to the private sector for local redevelopment. Most of the remaining land will continue to be part of the active Letterkenny Army Depot. To date, approximately 833 acres have been transferred to the private sector.

The PDO and SE NPL sites are separated by a major groundwater/surface-water drainage divide. Letterkenny's industrial and maintenance areas, which are primarily located in the southeastern corner of the Depot, encompass approximately 2,500 acres and include warehousing, vehicle storage, administration, industrial/maintenance, recreational activities, and housing. Contamination from both NPL sites includes chlorinated organic solvents, blast media, paints, petroleum products, metals, and cleaning agents stored or disposed of in landfills, trenches, burn pits, or spilled from storage.

Site Responsibility

This site is being addressed by the U.S. Department of Defense under the Installation Restoration Program and Base Closure (BRAC 1995).

NPL Listing History

The Letterkenny Army Depot PDO Area was proposed to the National Priorities List on April 10, 1985. The LEAD PDO Area was re-proposed to the NPL, to include the corrective action authorities of RCRA Subtitle C, on July 22, 1987. The site was formally added to the NPL on March 13, 1989.

Threats and Contaminants

Groundwater beneath the PDO Area and PDO Area surface water, including Rocky Spring Lake, are contaminated with chlorinated organic chemicals including trichloroethylene (TCE) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Soils have been contaminated by xylene, heavy metals, chloroform, and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Residential wells in the surrounding area have been sampled and are not impacted by this site. Individuals may be at risk if they accidentally ingest, inhale, or come in direct contact with contaminated groundwater or soil, or consume fish from contaminated areas.

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

The Ammunition Area is still considered an active part of the Letterkenny Army Depot, and is not included in the BRAC portion of property to be transferred to the private sector. Ongoing investigations are being conducted at the Ammunition Area.

Cleanup Progress

The majority of the two NPL sites (excluding the Ammunition Area) were identified in 1995 as excess and to be returned to the community for local reuse. The Army, EPA, and Pennsylvania signed an Interagency Agreement (also known as a "Federal Facilities Agreement") in 1989. The Army, Commonwealth, and EPA formed a BRAC Cleanup Team (BCT) in 1996. The BCT is working to streamline the cleanup process and expedite transfer of the excess property to facilitate local redevelopment and reuse. Franklin County has formed a Local Reuse Authority referred to as the Letterkenny Industrial Development Authority (LIDA) to support reuse and cleanup priorities.

BRAC Parcel Transfers
The Army is transferring the property to LIDA in seven Phases. A Record of Decision (ROD) was signed in September 1998 for the Phase I BRAC Parcels, which cover approximately 233 acres in both the PDO and SE Areas. A Finding of Suitability to Transfer (FOST) was signed in October 1998 for the Phase I Parcels.

In July 2001, a ROD was signed for the Phase II Parcels, which consist of approximately 358 acres in both the PDO and SE Areas. A FOST was signed in February 2002.

The ROD and the FOST for the Phase III Parcels were signed in August 2003. Phase III covers 201 acres in both the PDO and SE Areas.

Several Findings of Suitability to Lease (FOSLs) covering parcels in the PDO Area have been signed. The purpose of the FOSLs is to document environmental conditions at selected buildings and parcels at Letterkenny Army Depot for lease to LIDA. In addition, FOSLs identify use restrictions necessary to protect human health and the environment and to prevent interference with any existing or planned environmental response actions.

PDO OU 1 Source Area Soils
OU 1 consisted of the Defense Revitalization and Marketing Office (DRMO) Drum Storage Revetments and the Oil Burn Pit (OBP). The DRMO used the Drum Area Revetments for storing drummed wastes as recently as the 1980s. The OBP was used as a fire training area during the 1970s and 1980s. Oils and solvents were dumped into the OBP and set on fire as part of fire training exercises by the Letterkenny Fire Department.

Investigations conducted in the early 1980s concluded that the OBP and the DRMO Drum Area Revetments were the major sources of the VOC groundwater contamination, but the soils were no longer an active source of contamination. Based on the findings of the remedial investigation, a "No Action" Record of Decision (ROD) was signed in August 1991. The ROD stated that the VOCs had migrated from the soils into the underlying bedrock. Therefore no soil remediation was necessary at the OBP and the DRMO Drum Revetments. However, in 1995 soil contamination was discovered while backfilling the Oil Burn Pit. Later that year, sampling results showed the soil to be contaminated with 1,1,1 – trichloroethane (TCA) and other VOCs. As a result, PDO OU 4 was created to administratively manage the newly discovered contamination.

PDO OU 2 PDO Area Groundwater and Surface Water
PDO OU 2 consists of VOC-contaminated groundwater in the Lower PDO Area. The Lower PDO groundwater becomes surface water at the Rocky Spring.

Approximately 20 residential water wells south of the PDO Area have been sampled periodically since 1982. Over time, VOC concentrations at Rocky Spring have decreased to the point that monitored natural attenuation is being considered as a potential remedy. Only 2 contaminants of potential concern are currently present above risk-based values, trichloroethene and 1,1-dichloroethene. RI and FS reports have been completed by the Army. Remedy Selection via a ROD is scheduled to be completed in the summer of 2013.

PDO OU 3 Mercury Detections in Rocky Spring Lake
PDO OU 3 addressed the sporadic detections of mercury in the Rocky Spring Lake. During two sampling events in 1991, mercury was detected in the lake. However, follow-up studies in 1992-1994 did not detect mercury levels above region background in the lake. The 1996 remedial investigation concluded that the 1991 mercury detections were due to drought conditions that caused enhanced bioaccumulation of mercury and subsequent release during algal die-off. This caused a short-term release of mercury into the lake. Since there were no further mercury detections above background, a "No Further Action" Decision Document was finalized in February 2000.

PDO OU 4 Oil Burn Pit
As stated above in the discussion of OU 1, PDO OU 4 was created to address soil, sediment and groundwater contamination discovered at the Oil Burn Pit (OBP). In 1995, Letterkenny was backfilling the OBP when black sludge-like material was seen oozing from beneath the fill material. The sludge was sampled and discovered to have high levels of VOCs. Later that year, soil boring sampling results showed the soil to be contaminated with 1,1,1- trichloroethane (TCA) and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These results showed that the OBP was still an active source of groundwater contamination. Therefore, the Army initiated in-situ chemical oxidation as an interim removal action in 1997. A second phase of in-situ treatment was in conducted in 1998/1999. Soil sampling results indicate that while the interim action achieved a significant reduction in VOCs, the removal action goals were not achieved.

RI and FS reports have been completed by the Army. Remedy Selection via a ROD is scheduled to be completed in 2013.

PDO OU 5 DRMO Scrap Yard and PCB Investigation of the Rocky Spring System
PDO OU 5 encompasses the Rocky Spring Drainage Area. Contaminants of concern include PCBs and pesticides. During the removal of sediments from the Spring House at Rocky Spring in 1995, elevated levels of PCBs were discovered in the sediments. Additional sediment sampling showed that PCB contaminated sediments were continuing to discharge from Rocky Spring and flow into Rocky Spring Lake. Fish samples indicated possible risk to human health from ingestion. Therefore, the Letterkenny Commander issued a fishing ban at Rocky Spring Lake in 1995.

The remedial investigation determined that capacitor crushing as well as PCB storage and handling operations at the DRMO Scrap Yard were the source of the PCB-contaminated sediments. The DRMO Scrap Yard is located within the upper PDO Drainage System, upstream of Rocky Spring.

In 1999, the Army performed a time-critical removal action to removed the source of the PCBs. 10,660 tons of contaminated soil were removed as part of this effort. After the completion of the time-critical removal action, additional soil sampling revealed elevated levels of PCBs within an area referred to as the plunge pool. The plunge pool area received the majority of the surface water run-off from the DRMO Scrap Yard and directs the flow to the Upper Rocky Spring Branch. Based on these results, the Army performed a removal action in the fall of 2002. Forty-two tons of PCB-contaminated sediment was excavated and disposed of in September 2002.

The RI Reports for PDO OU5 have been completed. PDO OU5 has been combined with PDO OU2 and portions of PDO OU6 in an FS Report. Remedy Selection via a ROD is scheduled to be completed in the summer of 2013.

PDO OU 6 Possible Waste Sites Being Investigated Under the 1995 BRAC Decision
The BRAC Area within the PDO Area has been designated as PDO OU 6. Several parcels were transferred under the Phase I and Phase II Findings of Suitability to Transfer (FOSTs) in 1998 and 2002, respectively. RODs for both transfers specified institutional controls as the final remedy for soils. Several remaining parcels are currently being investigated for potential environmental contamination.

In 2002, an engineering evaluation/cost analysis (EE/CA) was completed for the Former PDO Scrap Yard site, located in PDO OU 6, to evaluate and recommend a potential remedy for contaminated soils. Evidence from historical aerial photographs indicates that the Former PDO Scrap Yard was used as a storage area for scrap and other waste materials from initial operations at Letterkenny until the late 1960s. The historical records indicate that drums were buried at the site and that burning of scrap materials and limited burying of materials may have occurred there. A streamlined risk evaluation indicated that dioxins/furans, zinc, and asbestos were present in soils at levels that potentially pose an unacceptable level of risk based on the likely future use scenarios. Therefore, to mitigate the existence of unacceptable levels of risk at the site, the EE/CA recommended that further action be taken in order to be protective of human health. Specifically, the EE/CA recommended excavation and off-site treatment or recycling as the remedy. As a result, a removal action was completed in September 2005.

The RI Reports for the PDO OU6 site have been completed. These PDO OU6 sites have been combined with PDO OU2 and PDO OU5 in an FS Report. Remedy Selection via a ROD is scheduled to be completed in the summer of 2013.

PDO OU 7 - Southern Martinsburg Shale Region (SMSR)
The Southern Martinsburg Shale Region (SMSR) is a part of Letterkenny that contains an area of shale bedrock surrounded by down-gradient limestone bedrock. This shale bedrock area forms the "highland" or elevated ridge areas in the Phase III parcels. Groundwater flows radially away from the SMSR. Groundwater sampling in 1999, 2000, and 2002 proved that the SMSR was not impacted by any previous industrial activities at Letterkenny. Based on the finding of no VOC impacted groundwater, the SMSR was redefined as PDO OU 7 and subsequently became the basis for the Phase III property transfer. The ROD and FOST for the Phase III areas were signed in August 2003. These parcels were transferred without any restrictions.

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