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Naval Air Development Center Warminster

EPA Region 3 (Mid-Atlantic)

Pennsylvania
Bucks County
Warminster

EPA ID# PA6170024545

8th Congressional District

Last Update: January, 2015

Other Names


Naval Air Warfare Center (NAWC) Warminster

Current Site Status

The U.S. Navy is currently investigating perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) in groundwater both on the former Navy property and at nearby residential wells.  In addition, groundwater remedies for volatile organic compound (VOC) contamination, which include pumping and treatment of groundwater in three areas, have been demonstrated by the Navy to be operating properly and successfully.  The majority of the former Navy property has been transferred to the private sector per the Base Realignment and Closure Act.

Site Description

The Naval Air Development Center site, which covers 840 acres and is located in Warminster Township and Ivyland Borough, Bucks County, PA, was renamed Naval Air Warfare Center (NAWC) in 1993.  Commissioned in 1944, NAWC's main function was the research, development and testing of Naval aircraft systems. Wastes were generated during aircraft maintenance and repair, pest control, firefighting training, machine and plating shop operations, spray painting, and various materials research and testing activities in laboratories.  These wastes include paints, solvents, sludges from industrial wastewater treatment, and waste oils. Pursuant to BRAC, NAWC ceased operations in September 1996.  Most of the property has been transferred to the private sector. NAWC is located in a populated suburban area and is surrounded by homes, commercial and industrial activities and a golf course.  NAWC was placed on the CERCLA NPL due to the threat posed by eight disposal areas to groundwater quality.  Prior to the discovery of PFC contamination during the 2012 Five Year Review, the primary groundwater contaminants of concern at NAWC have been found to be trichloroethylene (TCE), tetrachloroethylene (PCE) and carbon tetrachloride.  The area surrounding NAWC is completely dependent on groundwater for both public and private water supplies.
 
PFCs, mainly Perfluoroctanoic  Acid (PFOA) and  Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS),  were first tested for as emerging contaminants in preparation for the 2012 Five Year Review.  During this time, it was discovered that levels in groundwater on the former Navy property exceeded EPA provisional health advisory levels (HALs) for drinking water. Provisional HALs serve as informal technical guidance designed to assist federal, state and local officials in evaluating threats to local water supplies. Provisional HALs are not federally enforceable standards and are subject to change as new information becomes available. 

Outside of the CERCLA Five Year Review, in 2013, the EPA required many public water
systems, including the Warminster Township Municipal Authority (WTMA), the local public water supplies in the area of NAWC, to sample for a group of 28 unregulated contaminants, including PFOS and PFOA.   Based on the results, two public drinking water production wells impacted by PFOS and PFOA were taken off-line in June 2014.

Site Responsibility

This site is being addressed through Federal actions.

NPL Listing History
Proposed Date: 06/10/86
Final Date: 10/04/89

Threats and Contaminants

Groundwater both on-site and off-site is contaminated with chlorinated volatile organic compounds (VOCs) including TCE, PCE, and carbon tetrachloride. Investigations to determine the nature and extent of non- PFC groundwater and soil contamination have been completed.  Impacted residential and commercial drinking water supplies have been addressed through response actions. Drinking or showering with untreated contaminated groundwater could pose a health risk.  Soil at certain locations could present a threat to human health via direct contact pathways and sediments in stream draining the base have been impacted.  In each case, heavy metals are the contaminants of concern.

PFOS and PFOA are recent discovered contaminants of concern for the former NAWC.  PFOS and PFOA are organic chemicals used in repellants for stains, water, oil, and grease. Commercial and consumer products containing or de-grading to these compounds were first introduced in the 1950s. They have been used in a variety of products such as the fabric of upholstered furniture, car-pets, nonstick cookware, floor wax, and the lining of microwave popcorn bags. Firefighting foams also contain these chemicals. Over time, both chemicals became widely distributed in the environment and have been detected in the blood of humans, wildlife, and fish.  In 2009, EPA issued provisional HALs for PFOS and PFOA for which there are no drinking water standards. While EPA continues its research into the impacts of these chemicals on human health and the environment, provisional HALs serve as informal technical guidance designed to assist federal, state and local officials in evaluating threats to local water supplies. Provisional HALs are not federally enforceable standards and are subject to change as new information becomes available. Contaminant descriptions and associated risk factors are available at the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry’s (ATSDR’s) Web site: http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/hazdat.html.

In the summer of 2014, at the request of the U.S. Navy, the EPA began  sampling private drinking water wells in the area of the former Naval Air Warfare Center (NAWC), Warminster, PA for perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs), including perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) . Sample results to date indicate that some private drinking water wells have been impacted by PFOS and PFOA above the EPA’s provisional health advisory level (HALs). Those homes are being provided an alternate water supply until an appropriate solution can be implemented.

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

Cleanup Progress

All remedial construction is complete.  All remedies for contaminated soil are in place.  Remedies for contaminated groundwater are operating properly and successfully.

In response to TCE and PCE contamination detected in off-base private wells adjacent to NAWC, in 1993, the Navy installed water treatment systems in over 40 homes and subsequently connected over 20 homes to public water systems.  Since sampling results suggested that the contamination was due to both NAWC and an unknown off-base source, the EPA connected an additional 40 residences to a public water system in 1994.  In 1995, a commercial facility was also connected to public water by the Navy.  In 1996, the construction of an on-base groundwater treatment system was completed and the pumping and treatment of PCE-contaminated groundwater at Area C at NAWC was initiated.  The construction of groundwater extraction wells in Areas A and D at NAWC was initiated in late 1998 and early 1999, respectively.  Pumping and treatment of contaminated groundwater in Area A was initiated in Summer 1999.   The primary contaminants at Area A are TCE, carbon tetrachloride and PCE; at Area D, the contaminant is TCE.  

Soil/Waste:  In 1996, a removal action at Site 4 excavated and removed waste from a series eight disposal trenches.  The primary contaminants in the waste were polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). In 1997, a removal action was conducted at Sites 6 and 7, a series of disposal trenches and pits.  Contaminants in soil/waste excavated and removed from Sites 6/7 included TCE, PCE, and PCBs. In 1998, soil contaminated with cadmium, lead and other heavy metals was excavated and removed as part of a removal action at Sites 1 and 2.  In 1999, soil contaminated with lead was removed from Site 8. Access to remaining soils of concern at Sites 1, 2, 6 and 7 will be controlled through deed restrictions. Erosion controls are in place at Site 2 and a clean, vegetated soil cover in place at Sites 6 and 7.  Monitoring of stream sediment is ongoing.

The Navy has completed its third five-year review.  EPA policy towards potential risk from vapor intrusion has changed since the last five year review and it is anticipated that the Navy will complete additional vapor intrusion sampling to insure that all remedies in place are protective of human health and the environment.   In addition, the Navy is developing a work plan for an optimization study to determine if in-situ treatment would accelerate groundwater remediation.

In the summer of 2014, at the request of the U.S. Navy, the EPA began  sampling private drinking water wells in the area of the former Naval Air Warfare Center (NAWC), Warminster, PA for perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs), including perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) . Sample results to date indicate that some private drinking water wells have been impacted by PFOS and PFOA above the EPA’s provisional health advisory level (HALs). Those homes are being provided an alternate water supply until an appropriate solution can be implemented.

The U.S Navy, with input from both the U.S. EPA and PADEP, is currently conducting a remedial investigation to define the nature and extent of PFC contamination and identify possibly sources.

Contacts

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