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Naval Air Station and Air Reserve Station Willow Grove

EPA Region 3 (Mid-Atlantic)

Montgomery County
Willow Grove

EPA ID# PAD987277837

13th Congressional District

Last Update: January 2015

Other Names

Willow Grove Naval Air Station, Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base, NASJRB, NASJRBWG

Current Site Status

The EPA is sampling private drinking water wells in the area of Willow Grove Naval Air station Joint Reserve Base in Horsham, PA for perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs), including perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). As of January 9, 2015, of the 333 wells identified to be sampled, 206 have been sampled and 182 wells have validated results. There are 37 wells which exceed provisional health advisory levels of 0.2 micrograms per liter of water for PFOS and 0.4 micrograms per liter of water for PFOS. There are 51 properties receiving bottled water.

Site 1 groundwater is contaminated with PCE and TCE from a suspected off base source and Site 5 groundwater is contaminated with several VOCs. The Bioremediation pilot study at Site 5 is installed and operating. The sodium bicarbonate is being added to raise the pH of the groundwater. Lactate will be added as the substrate (to feed the bugs). The need for bioaugmentation will be evaluated. At Site 3 studies revealed historical landfill activity. There are ongoing investigations to access the nature and extent of landfill activities.


The Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry (ATSDR) has performed a Public Health Assessment of the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base & Air Reserve Station Willow Grove and found "No Apparent" threats to public health or to the environment. This ATSDR document is dated September 2001.

Site Description

This 1,200 acre site is comprised of the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Willow Grove (NASJRB/WG) and the Willow Grove Air Reserve Station (WGARS), which are operating U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force installations, respectively, located in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. The installations are co-located within one perimeter and are located approximately 25 miles north of Philadelphia. Aircraft operations at the site began during the 1920s when the facility was named Pitcairn Airfield. The U.S. Navy acquired the airfield in 1942 and began jet training there in 1949. Currently, NASJRB/WG and WGARS provide materials, facilities, services, and training in direct support of all units assigned to the stations. Activities that generate, store, or dispose of hazardous waste at the facilities fall into four general categories: (1) aircraft maintenance; (2) base civil engineering; (3) fuel operation and (4) personnel training. Sources of potential contamination on Navy property include, but are not necessarily limited to, the Privet Road Compound, Antenna Field Landfill, Ninth Street Landfill, the former Fire Training Area and a fuel farm. On the Air Force property, a washrack area, a stormwater retention basin, a fuel farm, and a number of hazardous waste storage areas have been identified as potential sources of contamination.

Analysis of groundwater samples collected from wells located near the Privet Road Compound area, which is near the border of the Navy and Air Force properties revealed contamination from various chemicals. Samples from two Navy drinking water supply wells showed levels of tetrachlorethene (PCE) above EPA-established health-based levels. Water form the Navy potable water production wells receives preliminary treatment (air stripping) to remove volatile organic compounds (such as PCE) before entering a storage tank. Treated water in the storage tank is monitored to ensure no levels of potentially harmful contaminants are reached. Water from the storage tank is further treated for bacterial disinfection and testing prior to distribution throughout the base for drinking and other uses. Over 800 employees at the two facilities may consume or come into contact with treated water from the Navy supply wells. The source(s) of contamination found in groundwater is under investigation by EPA Site Assessment Branch.

Site Responsibility
The site is being addressed through federal actions.
NPL Listing History
Proposed Date: 08/23/94
Final Date: 09/29/95

Threats and Contaminants

The phased RI performed over several years has concluded that Site 1 is not the source of the VOCs detected in the groundwater, and that these VOCs were most likely migrating onto the Base from an off-Base source location. Analytical results and geophysical evidence obtained from three monitoring wells installed upgradient of Site 1 at the Air Station property line in 2006 confirmed the remedial investigation conclusion that the VOCs detected in the Navy supply wells is not related to Site 1, but are migrating onto Air Station property from an upgradient off-Base source location. Samples from a possible source have been collected and analyzed however due to data gaps a conclusion has been drawn.

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

Cleanup Progress

A Record of Decision (ROD) for Site 1 Privet Road Compound Soil was signed in 2006 for no further remedial action under the CERCLA program following a removal action in 1999 removing PCB contaminated soil. A ROD for Site 1 Privet Road Groundwater was signed in 2008 and the Draft Remedial Design for LUCs is currently in review. The Draft ROD for No Action for Site 2 Antenna Field Landfill is currently in review. The Draft Remedial Investigation for Site 3 Ninth Street Landfill is expected in mid November. A removal action was completed at Site 5 Fire Training Area (FTA) removing approximately 430 cubic yards of soil contaminated with PAH, TOC and pH. A ROD for no further remedial action for soils under the CERCLA program was signed for Site 5 FTA in 2007. A draft Proposed Remedial Action Plan to address the contaminated groundwater at site 5 was submitted to EPA for review in March 2011. The Preferred Remedial Action includes the following :in-situ anaerobic bioremediation , natural attenuation and land use controls and long term groundwater monitoring.

A no-action Consensus Agreement has been signed for Site 6 Abandoned Rifle Range No. 1 and for Site 7 Abandoned Rifle Range No. 2 as well.


Site Contacts

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

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