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U.S. Army Redstone Arsenal

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Northern berm at the Redstone Arsenal site.
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Site Summary Profile
EPA ID: AL7210020742
Location: Huntsville, Madison County, AL
Lat/Long: 34.646940, -086.673050
Congressional District: 05
NPL Status: Proposed: 06/23/93; Final 05/31/94
Affected Media: Ground water, Soil
Cleanup Status: Early Action/Initiated/Completed and Study Underway - Physical cleanup activities have started.
Site Reuse/Redevelopment: Industrial/Agricultural/Ecological - Several chemical manufacturing and development facilities operate on the site. Approximately 15,500 acres are woodlands, 9,200 are leased for agricultural use, and 4,100 are designated as the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge.
Site Manager: Michelle Thornton (thornton.michelle@epa.gov)


Site Background

The Redstone Arsenal site is located in Huntsville, Madison County, Alabama, and encompasses 38,300 acres, 36,459 of which are controlled by the Department of the Army. The George C. Marshall Space Flight Center operated by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) lease the remaining 1,841 acres. Since opening in the early 1940s, development within Redstone Arsenal has largely revolved around the historical need to produce, and later dispose of, conventional and chemical munitions. More recently, site operations have been focused on development and testing of missiles and rockets. Most of the Redstone Arsenal’s current industrial tenants support the aviation and missile weapon system effort.

The Redstone Army cleanup program consists of over 248 active sites which are split between surface media sites, wetlands and ground water sites. The sites are divided into 25 operable units. One groundwater OU consisting of thirteen ground water investigation areas has been established to address extensive contamination in the complex Karst geology of the region. Also, one Integrated Operable Unit consisting of twelve wetland areas has been established to address the complex wetland habitats and contamination which has migrated into those wetlands. The Army and NASA cleanup programs are separately funded and operated, with the Army and NASA coordinating on common programmatic needs such as data sharing, and technical issues including ground water, unexploded ordnance, and chemical warfare material contamination characterization and cleanup.

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Threats and Contaminants

Contaminants of concern at the Redstone Arsenal site include solvents, metals, pesticides, chemical warfare material, and hazardous remnants from rocket fuel research, development and testing, including perchlorate. These contaminants have impacted ground water, soil, sediments, and surface waters.

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Site Cleanup Plan

As part of the site cleanup strategy, EPA identified twenty-five operable units (OUs). These OUs typically refer to various portions of the site. OU-3, for example, refers to the Former Chemical Training Facility area. EPA completed Records of Decision (RODs) for six of the twenty OUs, and issued an interim ROD for OU-19 (Installation-wide Ground Water) in 2007. Major components of the cleanup approach included:

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Cleanup Progress

Numerous studies and cleanup actions, led by the Department of the Army, are underway at Redstone Arsenal with oversight by the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) and the EPA. A 2001 Federal Facility Agreement (FFA) integrates NASA's Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and the CERCLA/SARA requirements for the Marshall Space Flight Center and provides for enforceable cleanup schedules. Although finalized on the National Priorities List (NPL) in 1994, the Army investigation and cleanup activities at Redstone proceed in the absence of a Federal Facility Agreement with EPA and ADEM. ADEM issued a RCRA Hazardous Waste Storage/SWMU Corrective Action/Subpart X Permit in 2009 Of the 400 Army media sites, 248 are actively being investigated and numerous clean up actions have been completed. In addition, EPA completed CERCLA Site Assessment activities at Redstone Arsenal; which through archival searches, aerial photograph reviews, and employee interviews, identified approximately one thousand additional areas of potential concern at Redstone Arsenal. Of the 248 sites, 17 have been determined to need interim actions per the ADEM RCRA Permit. These seventeen sites are all chemical warfare munitions disposal sites.

Parties have signed Eleven Record of Decisions at Redstone. One was an interim ROD that provided institutional controls over Groundwater while investigations were underway.  Remedial actions for the active action RODs have been implemented and completed.

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Enforcement Activities

Parties have not yet signed  a Federal Facilities Agreement for Redstone.  This limits the CERCLA enforcement actions available to the EPA at a Federal Facility.  ADEM has issued a RCRA Permit for Redstone and is implementing the permit with an alternative compliance schedule.  The Army has decided unilaterally to only comply with RCRA and is no longer preparing CERCLA documents.

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Community Involvement

The Army is conducting a range of community involvement activities at the Redstone Arsenal site to solicit community input and to ensure that the public remains informed about site activities throughout the site cleanup process. Outreach activities have included public notices, interviews, a mailing list, fact sheets, and public meetings on cleanup activities and updates.

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Future Work

Site investigation and cleanup activities are ongoing.

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Available Documents

Site Repository

For more information or to view any site-related documents, please visit the site information repository at the following location. As new documents are generated, they will be placed in the information repository for public information.

Huntsville-Madison County Public Library
Heritage Room
915 Monroe Street
Huntsville, AL 35801-5007

For documents not available on the website, please contact the Region 4 Freedom of Information Office.

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