Jump to main content.

Letterkenny Army Depot, Southeast

Current Site Information

EPA Region 3 (Mid-Atlantic)

Franklin County
5 miles north of Chambersburg

EPA ID# PA6213820503

3rd Congressional District

Last Update: January 2013

Other Names

Letterkenny Army Depot (LEAD)

Current Site Status

Currently,several Operable Units (OUs) are actively being investigated at Letterkenny Southeast Area. The following lists show the work completed in Fiscal Years (FY) 2012 and the work anticipated to be completed in FY13.

Work completed in FY12:

Work scheduled for FY13:

Site Description

The Letterkenny Army Depot was originally a 19,243 acre Army facility, located 5 miles north of Chambersburg, Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Approximately 17,000 people live within 5 miles of the Letterkenny Army Depot. There are two NPL sites associated with the Letterkenny Army Depot. The first is referred to as the Letterkenny Army Depot Property Disposal Office (PDO) NPL site. The second is referred to as the Letterkenny Army Depot Southeast (SE) Area NPL site. This narrative will concentrate on the Letterkenny Army Depot SE Area NPL site.

The Letterkenny Army Depot was established in 1942 for ammunition storage. Since 1947, however, activities at the Letterkenny Army Depot expanded to include (a) the testing, maintenance and overhaul of wheeled and tracked vehicles and missiles; (b) the storage and transportation of industrial chemicals and petroleum; and (c) storage, maintenance, demilitarization, and modification of ammunition. The Letterkenny Army Depot SE Area NPL site includes areas associated with the overhauling, rebuilding, and testing of wheeled and tracked vehicles, as well as warehousing operations.

The Letterkenny Army Depot was included in the 1995 Base Closure and Realignment Act (BRAC), with 1,462 acres designated for transfer to the private sector for local redevelopment, while the resulting 17,781 acres remain as part of the active Letterkenny Army Depot. To date, 833 acres have been transferred to the private sector, with approximately 400 acres remaining to be transferred.

In 1983, volatile organic compound (VOC) contamination of the groundwater beneath the Letterkenny Army Depot (LEAD) SE Area was detected. In 1984, it was determined that the LEAD SE Area contained at least six major areas of VOC contamination and/or elevated levels of metals. Three of these areas were confirmed to have contributed VOC contamination to the groundwater. In particular, industrial waste lagoons located at the LEAD SE Area contributed to VOC groundwater contamination. The VOC contaminated groundwater plume migrated off-site and discharged to springs up to 2 miles to the east and south of the industrial waste lagoons. This same contaminated groundwater plume extended to off-post wells. After residential well sampling disclosed the presence of VOC-contaminated groundwater, the Army initially supplied affected residences with bottled potable water. By 1987, 38 residences and businesses were connected to the Guilford Water Authority water supply. In 1992, three additional residences were added to the water supply line.

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.

The Army also formed a Restoration Advisory Board (RAB) with the regulators, citizens and local government members to give input to final cleanup decisions. Funding for cleanups comes from both Army BRAC and Installation Restoration Programs accounts. Further study is also needed for additional transfer of BRAC parcels, including possible transfers prior to final cleanup.

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 SE Area was proposed to the National Priorities List of the most serious uncontrolled or abandoned hazardous waste sites requiring long term remedial action on October 15, 1984. The site was formally added to the list on July 22, 1987.

Threats and Contaminants

Groundwater beneath the Southeast Industrial Area of the depot, as well as beneath an off-depot area of approximately 4,000 acres, extending at least 1 1/2 miles to the east, is contaminated with chlorinated organic chemicals. Soil has been found to be contaminated with chlorinated organic chemicals, including volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Individuals may be at risk if they accidentally ingest, inhale vapors, or come in direct contact with contaminated groundwater or soil.

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

Cleanup Progress

Environmental Studies began in 1978 and continue. The majority of the two NPL sites 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 in 1989. The Army, state and EPA formed a BRAC Cleanup Team (BCT) in 1996 which is working closely to streamline the cleanup process, to expedite the cleanup, transfer and reuse of excess property to facilitate local redevelopment. Franklin County has formed a Local Reuse Authority (LRA) referred to as the Letterkenny Industrial Development Authority (LIDA) to support reuse and cleanup priorities.

The Letterkenny Army Depot SE Area NPL site has 12 Operable Units:

SE OU 1 K Area Contaminated Soils

The K-Areas were used for the disposal of waste generated from LEAD activities. The K-1 area (or K-1 Lagoon) was used to dispose of waste solvents used in painting, paint stripping, and degreasing operations at LEAD. The K-1 Area was in use from 1957 to 1970. Its dimensions were approximately 200 x 50 ft. The Area of VOC-impacted soil was approximately 78 x 189 ft.

The K-2 area was in use from 1965 to 1970 and included five (5) partially revetted areas used to accumulate solid waste prior to disposal into a nearby landfill. Its dimensions were approximately 270 x 75 ft. It appears that when the K-1 lagoon was closed some soil from K-1 ended up at K-2. The area impacted at K-2 was a 60 x 20 x approximately 10 ft deep.

The K-3 area was in use as a drum storage area from 1965 to 1970 and covered an overall area of approximately 100 ft. x 40 ft. Based on available soil analytical data, the actual contaminated area was limited to a 50 x 50 ft. area. The K-areas were located in the Disposal Area (DA) of the Depot.

In 1983, a RI identified that the K-Areas contained high levels of VOCs. In 1989, a DA-wide soil gas investigation identified that high levels of VOCs existed in the vadose zone soils of the K-Areas. In 1992 the boundaries of the K-Areas were delineated. K-1 contained up to 5.5% TCE and lead up to 1.5%. PCBs and SVOCs were also discovered.

A ROD was signed in August 1991. Remedial Action started in July 1993 and was completed in October 1995. The VOC-contaminated soils were excavated, treated with Low Temperature Thermal Desorption, returned to the site, and capped as a Class II Residual Waste Landfill. The Remedial Action addressed all environmental concerns of this OU. VOC-contaminated groundwater at this site will be addressed by OU 3- Southeast Onpost Contaminated Groundwater.

An ESD was finalized May 7, 2004 to implement Institutional Controls, Long-Term Maintenance, and Cap Inspection. The most recent 5 Year Review was completed in 2012.

SE OU 2 – Industrial Wastewater Sewer System and Contaminated Soils

Problems with the Industrial Wastewater Sewers (IWWS) were first identified in the 1993 Remedial Investigation (RI) Report for the Southeastern Area. Studies of the IWWS lines showed that numerous breaks and/or leaks existed in both the IWWS and Stormwater Sewer lines. Leak testing and sampling indicated that VOCs had leaked from the IWWS and migrated to the soil/bedrock interface. Emergency repairs were made to the IWWS beginning in October 1994 and were completed in December 1995. An engineering evaluation/cost analysis (EE/CA) was prepared by LEAD to address the removal of contaminated soils associated with the leaking IWWS lines. LEAD conducted an emergency removal action of the IWWS-contaminated soils east of Building 370 in summer 1997.

Remedial Investigation (RI) and Risk Assessment (RA) Reports were completed in September 1998 and June 2002, respectively. A Final FS was completed in November 2004 and a Proposed Plan was finalized in May 2005. A final Record of Decision (ROD) for SE OU 2 was signed in September 2006. The selected remedy for SE OU 2 was cleaning followed by abandonment of the sewer and drain lines at Building 37 and 57 to prevent future use of the existing sewers. The remedial action was completed in spring 2006. The risk assessment showed that there are acceptable risks for industrial and/or commercial use; therefore, the chosen remedy includes land use controls to prevent the use of the property for residential housing, elementary and secondary schools, child care facilities, and playgrounds.

SE OU 3 – Disposal Area VOC-Contaminated Groundwater

SE OU 3 was divided into two OUs (SE OU 3A and SE OU 3B) in 2002 so that the area upgradient of the VOC-contaminated groundwater from the Disposal Area source could be managed separately as SE OU 3B to facilitate the BRAC transfer.
SE OU 3A addresses on-post groundwater contamination in the Disposal Area (DA). Groundwater in the vicinity of the DA is contaminated with chlorinated solvents. Dye studies have shown that water from areas within SE OU 3A is discharging off-post (see SE OU 6). The source of this contamination was the DA. Although the many of the sources of contamination have been addressed, VOCs are still being detected. This is most likely due to the presence of Dense Non-Aqueous Phase Liquids (DNAPL) within the bedrock matrix and associated groundwater, which is continuing to act as a secondary source.
A draft Focused Feasibility Study (FFS) including an upfront Technical Impracticability waiver was finalized in FY10. Many studies have been completed to date, including a recirculation well Pilot Study and an in-situ H2O2 Pilot Study that was completed in April 2000. Additionally, investigations to verify the vertical extent of groundwater contamination were conducted from 2005 to 2006. A vapor intrusion pilot study was conducted from July 2004 to January 2006. The vapor intrusion sampling plan, which incorporated regulatory agency comments, was finalized in 2007. A Proposed Plan is scheduled to be completed in FY13.

SE OU 3B is a BRAC OU that addresses the area upgradient of the VOC-contaminated groundwater from the DA source. Groundwater sampling was initiated in August 2003 and a final SI Report was finalized in May 2005. A Proposed Plan was issued for public review in May 2005. A no action ROD and a FOST were completed and signed in June 2006. The ROD specifies no action for SE OU 3B groundwater and for soil associated with four parcels that consist of a portion of SE OU 8.

SE OU 4 – Stormwater Sewer Lines and Associated Drainageways

SE OU 4, which is located in both the BRAC and ER,A portions of LEAD, consists of the stormwater sewer system and associated sediments. Prior to installation and connection to the IWTP, industrial wastewaters from the SE Area at LEAD were discharged, untreated, to the Depot stormwater sewer system. An EE/CA was prepared to cover the removal of contaminated sediment from the Southeast Drainage Way (between the headwall and Salem Road) and Rowe Run (between the headwall and State Route 997) and to address the emergency repair of associated sinkholes. An emergency removal of the sediments and filling of the sinkholes was completed by the spring of 1997. A total of 1,037 tons of contaminated sediment was removed and disposed of as residual waste.
A Removal Action Summary Report for SE OU 4, which indicated no unacceptable risk to human health or the environment, was finalized in September 2003. A Proposed Plan was issued for public review in November 2004, and a Record of Decision was completed in August 2005. The selected remedy was no further remedial action.

SE OU 5 – Areas A and B Contaminated Soils

SE OU 5 is comprised of two areas of contaminated soil, which are designated Areas A and B. They were initially investigated in the 1980s. Area A is primarily contaminated with total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPH) and metals, with a small amount of VOCs. The most recent rounds of sampling to delineate the extent of contamination were completed in July 1995, when a localized spill area of elevated VOC concentrations was identified. An EE/CA was prepared and an emergency removal action was conducted in summer 1997 to excavate and dispose of the VOC-contaminated soil in the spill area. The remainder of Area A was evaluated as part of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) RI process.
Area B was a former Oil Burn Pit (OBP). The soil in this area was found to contain TPH, metals, and a small amount of VOCs; groundwater was also found to contain VOCs. Area B was further evaluated as part of the CERCLA RI process.
VOC contamination at Areas A and B is attributed to the K Areas (SE OU 1) and the Area A spill area. A Final RI/RA was completed in October 2004; these were published separately as an RI and an RA. A worm bio-uptake study was conducted in accordance with comments from EPA Biological Technical Assistance Group (BTAG), and as a result, a draft addendum to the ecological RA was submitted in September 2006. An FS will be completed in FY13.

SE OU 6 – VOC-Contaminated Groundwater North of Gate 6 and East of East Patrol Road (Rowe Run Drainage System)

SE OU 6 includes the discharge points of 6 VOC-impacted off-post springs and off-post VOC-contaminated groundwater associated with SE OU 3A and SE OU 11, including residential drinking water wells. A final dye study, initiated in September 1995, included the placement of dye in on-post monitor wells located near LEAD's property line and in Rowe Run (boundary trace). This study was completed in December 1995.

In addition to the springs, off-post wells were also evaluated as part of SE OU 6. Approximately 50 wells were sampled and results were analyzed for VOC and metals concentrations during the past 3 years. The results from this sampling indicated no additional VOC-contaminated off-post wells other than those previously identified.

A third study area of the off-post groundwater impacts was an evaluation of animals and animal products located on farms near the SE Area. Samples of eggs, milk, and meat were collected from numerous farms. VOCs and metals were detected at concentrations within the literature values or regional background levels for the media sampled.
A final RI/RA Report for SE OU 6 was submitted in November 2004. Additional investigations to verify the vertical extent of groundwater contamination were conducted from 2005 to 2006. A vapor intrusion pilot study was conducted from July 2004 to January 2006. In order to address residual on- and off-post VOC-contaminated groundwater associated with SE OUs 6 and 11 at LEAD, a Work Plan for the Evaluation of the Vapor Intrusion Pathway at SE OUs 6 and 11 was finalized in June 2007.
SE OU6 will be included in the Proposed Plan and ROD for OUs 3A and 11. The Proposed Plan and ROD are scheduled to be completed in FY13 and FY14, respectively.

SE OU 7 – Truck Open Storage Area

Sampling of SE OU 7 was initially conducted in summer 1994. This area consisted of an open storage area for trucks and an abandoned septic tank and leach field system formerly used as an oil/water separator. Analytical results from this sampling have shown no significant soil contamination present at SE OU 7. The detected groundwater contamination is attributable to SIA sources, such as the formerly leaking IWWS gravity lines associated with Building 37. Groundwater at SE OU 7 was addressed under SE OU 10. During the investigation of SE OU 7, an abandoned septic system was found. The septic system was used as an oil/water separator for the disposal of sanitary sewage from LEAD holding tanks. A removal action was conducted in spring 1997, which consisted of characterization, solidification and removal of the tank contents, backfilling of the tank, and restoration of the site.
A supplemental investigation was conducted in 1999 for the presence of polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and dibenzofurans (dioxins/furans), and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). The results of the investigation were published in July 2000 and showed that the presence of dioxins/furans in burned material was at concentrations greater than the published industrial screening levels for direct contact. A time-critical removal action was completed in this area in December 2000.

The Summary of Investigations and Current Conditions Human Health Screening Level Risk Assessment and Screening Level Ecological Risk Assessment (SLRA/SLERA) was completed for the TOSA/WOS site in July 2009. SE OU 7 is included in the Phase V BRAC Parcels. The ROD was completed in FY12.

SE OU 8 – BRAC Waste Sites

The SE OU 8 area is composed of potential waste sites identified in the to-be-excessed portion of the SE Area. SE OU 8 is being investigated under the BRAC investigation program.

Findings of Suitability to Lease (FOSLs) have been signed for the following SE areas: Buildings 6, 9, 19, 412, 416, 500, 522, 2291, 7, 8, and 42. Two FOSLs were also signed that covered the remainder of the BRAC buildings in the SE area. Property transfers under BRAC are being performed in phases. The following is a summary of the status of property transfers within the SE OU 8 area:

At the time of the Phase I and Phase II RODs, the Army believed that it was administratively burdensome to separate parcels requiring these restrictions from those that qualify for Unrestricted Use and Unlimited Exposure (i.e. Residential Use). However, after completing the Second Five Year Review, it was determined to be more of a burden to monitor existing controls that are unnecessary. Therefore, an ESD was completed in FY12 that removed commercial/industrial restrictions from some Phase I and Phase II parcels .

SE OU 9 – Landfill J

SE OU 9 consists of a landfill that has been designated Landfill J, which is located west of Building 320. Landfill J was discovered in 1995 while trenching for utilities. The extent of the landfill was determined using geophysical techniques and trenching. The characteristics of the soils and groundwater were evaluated through several sampling efforts. An emergency removal action was conducted in June 2001. A finalized Removal Action Summary Report, which included the RI/RA data, was completed in October 2004.

The Army has agreed to place a cover over this landfill and is currently evaluating groundwater remedies.

SE OU 10 – SSIA VOC-Contaminated Groundwater South of Gate 6 (Conococheague Drainage System)

SE OU 10 consists of contaminated groundwater south of Gate 6. SE OU 10 was created when SE OU 3 was divided at the groundwater/surface water divide near Gate 6. The sources of the groundwater contamination for SE OU 10 are the formerly leaking IWWS lines in the vicinity of Building 37 (VOC-contaminants) and a release from a diesel tank fuel line in the vicinity of Building 37.

A FFS Final Report was issued in September 2003. A final Proposed Plan was completed in February 2005, and a ROD was completed in March 2006. The selected remedy for SE OU 10 is Enhanced Biodegradation with Monitored Natural Attenuation and Land Use Controls (to prevent contact with contaminated groundwater until the time the groundwater is safe for use). A final Remedial Action Work Plan was completed in April 2007. The final sodium lactate injection for the selected remedy was completed at SE OU 10 in June 2007. A long-term groundwater monitoring program has been implemented for SE OU 10 and the most recent sampling event was conducted in August 2011.

On March 5, 2009 the EPA has approved the Interim Remedial Action Completion Report for OU 10 and made a determination that the remedy, Enhanced Biodegradation with Monitored Natural Attenuation and Land Use Controls, is Operating Properly and Successfully. An ESD was completed to lift Land Use Controls on the use of groundwater.

SE OU 11 – NSIA VOC-Contaminated Groundwater North of Gate 6

SE OU 11 consists of the VOC-contaminated groundwater associated with the IWTP lagoons and IWWS gravity lines. The groundwater discharges off-post (see SE OU 6). A pilot study was initiated in September 2001 to evaluate the feasibility of treating DNAPL sources and reducing off-site contaminant migration concentrations at the property line. This study was completed by January 2003. Additional investigations to verify the vertical extent of groundwater contamination were conducted from 2005 to 2006. The results of the additional investigations will be reported in a focused feasibility study (FFS).

A vapor intrusion pilot study was conducted from July 2004 to January 2006. SE OU 11 will be addressed with SE OUs 3A and 6. The Proposed Plan will be completed in FY13.

SE OU 13 – Southern Martinsburg Shale Region Groundwater

SE OU 13 encompasses BRAC property. The Southern Martinsburg Shale Region (SMSR) is a region at LEAD that contains an area of shale bedrock surrounded by downgradient limestone bedrock. This shale bedrock is generally more resistant to weathering than the surrounding limestone formations and therefore, forms the "highland" or elevated ridges within the Phase III parcel areas. Several groundwater and surface water divides along this ridge in the SMSR cause groundwater to flow away from the SMSR.
The SMSR was originally considered to be part of VOC-contaminated groundwater SE OU 10 and SE OU 11. Based on its geologic and topographic setting, it was thought that the SMSR would be unaffected by the known and potential VOC sources located downgradient of the SMSR because groundwater flows from the SMSR into the lower lying valley areas underlain by limestone. Therefore, a groundwater investigation was initiated in 1999 to establish that the SMSR was not impacted by any previous industrial activities at Letterkenny. The results of four rounds of groundwater sampling, conducted in late 1999 through 2000 and in 2002, showed no VOC groundwater contamination in the SMSR. Based on this finding, the SMSR was redefined as SE OU 13, and a no further action ROD was signed for SE OU 13 in August 2003. SE OU 13 was part of the Phase III BRAC property transfer completed in January 2004.

SE OU 14 – Former Test Track Area

SE OU 14 was created in 2007 to track sites in Army-retained land that were formerly administered under the BRAC program and are now in the ER,A program as a result of the revised BRAC boundary. SE OU 14 consists of the Former Test Track in the Disposal Area, Areas E and F, and the Building 349 Soil Staging Area. The RI/RA for the Former Test Track and Areas E and F was finalized in 2004. This RI/RA showed that risks are within acceptable levels for commercial/industrial use. A RI was completed for the Building 349 Soil Staging Area in FY10 and the FS will be completed in FY13.


Site Contacts

Administrative Record Locations

Region 3 | Mid-Atlantic Cleanup | Mid-Atlantic Superfund |EPA Home | EPA Superfund Homepage

Local Navigation

Jump to main content.