Waste Site Cleanup & Reuse in New England
Massachusetts Military Reservation
Protecting Cape Cod's drinking water continues to be a major focus at EPA New England. The Massachusetts Military Reservation (MMR), a 22,000-acre property that has been used for military training activities since 1911, is located over a sole source aquifer that provides drinking water for 200,000 year-round and 500,000 seasonal residents of Cape Cod. Parts of the aquifer have been contaminated by fuel spills and other past activities at MMR's Otis Air Force Base. Two environmental cleanup programs at the MMR are addressing areas of groundwater contamination, known as plumes, and their sources. One program managed by the Air Force is addressing contamination found primarily on the southern portion of the MMR under the authority of Superfund. The other, managed by the Army, is addressing contamination from the northern portion of the base, Camp Edwards, under the authority of the Safe Drinking Water Act. Both of these program's efforts are being conducted with oversight from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.
Concerned that military training was causing even more damage to the groundwater, EPA's New England Office in February 1997 (AO1 (PDF) (29 pp, 63 K, about PDF)) ordered the National Guard to conduct a study of the effects of military training on groundwater. In May 1997 (AO2 (PDF) (33 pp, 73 K, about PDF)), EPA suspended most military training at Camp Edwards, including all use of live explosives, propellants, flares and lead bullets. It was the first time in our country's history that military training activities had been halted due to environmental and public health concerns. The groundwater study, which is ongoing, has produced evidence of serious groundwater and soil contamination from training with munitions, from unexploded ordnance and from disposal of munitions and other hazardous materials.
As a result of the evidence of contamination, EPA in January 2000 (AO3 (PDF) (44 pp, 107 K, about PDF)) ordered the National Guard to begin the process for the removal of unexploded ordnance from the base and to clean up contaminated groundwater and soils. The order was the first of its kind in the country. And in January 2001 (AO4 (PDF) (39 pp, 102 K, about PDF)), EPA ordered the military to use a detonation chamber at the base to destroy the more than 2,500 rounds of different kinds of ammunition dug out of burial pits on the base during the course of the military's investigation of pollution at the firing ranges.
All four of EPA's orders were issued under the agency's emergency powers to prevent imminent and substantial endangerment to public health. (The first three orders were issued under the Safe Drinking Water Act, the fourth under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.)
|EPA Administrative Orders
||EPA Decision Documents|
Read about EPA's study on perchlorate... more
Otis Superfund Fact Sheet and related EPA Web sites ... Mass. DEP MMR site and other MMR sites ... more
|Small Arms Ranges|