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Parris Island Marine Corps Recruit Depot


Parris Island Marine Corps Recruit Depot.

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Site Summary Profile
EPA ID: SC6170022762
Location: Port Royal, Beaufort County, SC
Lat/Long: 32.352800, -080.703100
Congressional District: 02, 06
NPL Status: Proposed: 08/23/94; Final: 12/16/94
Affected Media: Sediment, Soil, Ground water, Fish, and Waste
Cleanup Status: Physical cleanup activities have started
Human Exposure Under Control: Yes
Ground water Migration Under Control: No
Sitewide Ready for Anticipated Use: No
Site Reuse/Redevelopment:In continued use – active military training facility
Site Manager: Lila Llamas (llamas.lila@epa.gov)

Current Site Status

The Parris Island Marine Corps Recruit Depot (Depot) is an active U.S. Navy installation. The installation is a recruit training facility for the U.S. Marine Corps. The Navy, EPA and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) have investigated conditions and taken steps to clean up the Depot in order to protect people and the environment from contamination. The Depot's contamination does not threaten people living and working on or near the Depot. By cleaning up and monitoring soils and ground water, enforcing land use controls, and undertaking Five-Year Reviews, the Navy, EPA and SCDHEC continue to protect people and the environment from contamination.

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Site Location and Background

The Depot is located on a barrier island off the South Carolina coast, about 30 miles northeast of Savannah, Georgia. Hilton Head Island, the closest point to the Depot on the mainland, is located across Port Royal Sound, about three miles southwest of the Depot. View facility location maps.

The Depot includes islands and marshes – about 2,900 acres of dry land and 3,800 acres of salt marshes, tidal ponds and streams. People fish in waters near the Depot. The surrounding area also serves as wildlife habitat for several threatened and endangered birds and fish, including the southern bald eagle, the wood stork, the Eskimo curlew and the short-nosed sturgeon.

The U.S. Marine Corps has used the Depot as a training facility since 1915. The Depot includes office buildings, family and recruit housing facilities, building and vehicle maintenance shops, and community facilities. The Navy identified 55 sites at the Depot for possible investigation and cleanup from 1984 to 1986. These sites included former spill areas and active landfills containing contaminated ground water and sediment. In 1994, EPA listed the Depot on the NPL. The Navy, EPA, SCDHEC and the Depot have worked together on Depot cleanup activities since the 1990s.

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Threats and Contaminants

Investigations identified contamination in sediment, soil, ground water, fish and waste material. Contaminants of concern include pesticides, metals, arsenic, benzene, chlorobenzene and tetrachloroethylene (also known as PCE or PERC).

The Depot's contamination is not a threat to nearby residents and businesses (i.e., human exposure is under control).

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Investigation and Cleanup Responsibility / Oversight

The Navy leads the investigation and cleanup of the Depot, with oversight provided by EPA and SCDHEC. The Navy’s cleanup and environmental restoration activities are taking place under both the federal Superfund law and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.

The Navy is also addressing some areas under the Military Munitions Response Program. View map of Military Munitions Response Program sites.

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Site Cleanup Plan

The Navy and EPA’s cleanup plan for the Depot is complicated. The Navy initially identified 55 sites at the Depot for possible investigation and cleanup from 1984 to 1986. The Navy is addressing several of these sites under the Superfund program. For management purposes, the Navy and EPA have grouped several of these sites together as operable units, or OUs. The Navy has identified 12 OUs. Since 2000, the Navy and EPA have issued cleanup plans (Records of Decision, or RODs) for OUs 1, 2, 3 and 5.

Cleanup activities selected in the most recent (OU-5) cleanup plan included:

Summaries of selected cleanup approaches are available online in site RODs and Five-Year Reviews.

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Cleanup Progress


Since the 1990s, the Navy has completed cleanup actions at several OUs. The Navy is currently conducting more investigations and will take more cleanup actions if needed.

Summaries of cleanup activities are also available in Five-Year Reviews online.

OU-1 (Site 1, 41)

OU-1 is a landfill bordered by salt marshes and tidal creeks. The Navy started cleanup actions for OU-1 in 2006. These included consolidating and capping waste materials and use of institutional controls. The Navy is monitoring ground water leachate and vegetation.

OU-2 (Site 2, 15)

OU-2 is a 10-acre landfill surrounded by salt marshes and tidal creeks. The Navy’s baseline risk assessment determined that site contamination did not threaten people or the environment and that no further cleanup action was required.

OU-3 (Site 3)

OU-3 is a landfill surrounded by salt marshes and tidal creeks. The Navy completed short-term cleanup actions for OU-3 in 2001. The Navy is preparing a final cleanup plan (ROD) for OU-3 that will possibly include the use of land use controls.

OU-4 (Site 45)

OU-4 addresses a 1994 PCE spill from a dry cleaning facility that caused soil and ground water contamination. Personnel dug up most of the contaminated soil. The Navy identified two separate areas of contaminated ground water. One area is located seven feet below the ground; the second area is located 14 feet below the ground.

To clean up the ground water, the Navy used a pump-and-treat system starting in 1998. However, the Navy shut down the system because it did not work well. After additional studies, the Navy determined the areas of contaminated ground water had spread. The Navy also found another area causing the ground water contamination. The Navy is conducting another remedial investigation and feasibility study to find out how far the ground water contamination has spread and evaluate other ways to clean it up.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has assisted in assessing contaminated ground water and the effect of tides on its movement. The USGS has also helped assess potential vapor intrusion concerns and answer questions about the other identified source of ground water contamination. The Navy will use the information as part of its ongoing effort to evaluate different ground water cleanup approaches.

OU-5 (Site 12)

OU-5 includes Jericho Island, a 25-acre barrier island. A private citizen previously owned and used the island as an unofficial residential waste dump. The Navy purchased the island to support rifle range training activities. The Navy completed cleanup actions in 2006, digging up waste and disposing of it off site. Except for restrictions on upper-level ground water, land uses on the island are not restricted. The Navy restored cleaned up areas to match conditions in nearby healthy ecosystems. The Navy continues to monitor these areas.

OU-6 (Site 5)

OU-6 is an old paint disposal area. The Navy has started a remedial investigation.

OU-7 (Site 9), OU-8 (Site 16), OU-9 (Site 27) and OU-10 (Site 55)

OU-7 is a paint waste disposal area. OU-8 is a pesticide storage, mixing and rinse area. OU-9 is a drum and excess material storage area). The Navy has targeted OU-9 as the location of a new industrial facility. OU-10 is a fiber-optic vault found to contain floating fuels and contaminants (benzene, chlorobenzene and pesticides). OU-9 is located downgradient from OU-10.

The Navy is working on these OUs as part of one remedial investigation. Some of the OUs are next to each other and some have similar types of contamination. View maps of OU-7, 8 and 9. Early results from the investigation indicate:

The Navy is currently doing more sampling to find out how far ground water contamination has spread and to find the sources of contamination in the ground water and soils. After the Navy completes the remedial investigation, the agencies will decide whether to continue to work on these OUs together or address them separately.


The Depot’s second Five-Year Review, completed in 2010, evaluated the cleanups for OUs 1, 3 and 5. The review found that the cleanup will protect people and the environment over the long term once completed. In the short term, cleanup actions to date protect people from contamination.

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Enforcement Activities

For many years, EPA has been working with its federal and state partners to clean up the Depot. The parties finalized a Federal Facility Agreement (FFA) for the Depot in 2005. The FFA became effective in 2006.

RODs and Five-Year Reviews online provide information on the FFA for the Depot.

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Community Involvement

EPA has worked with the community and its state and federal partners to develop a long-term cleanup plan for the Depot, reflecting the Agency’s commitment to safe, healthy communities and environmental protection. Community engagement and public outreach are core components of EPA program activities.

EPA has conducted a range of community involvement activities at the Depot to solicit community input and to ensure that the public remains informed about Depot activities throughout the cleanup process. Outreach efforts have included public notices, interviews and public meetings.

In addition, the Depot’s Technical Review Committee (TRC) provides interested parties with a forum to discuss and provide input into Depot restoration activities. The TRC meets semi-annually and includes representatives from local universities and natural resource organizations.

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Future Work

The Navy is investigating and taking action at several areas across the Depot.  

EPA completed the Depot’s last Five-Year Review in 2010 and plans to complete the next Five-Year Review in 2015. 

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Additional Information

EPA keeps additional site documents and information in a site information repository at the location below. EPA also posts site documents, when available, on EPA’s CERCLIS Site Profile page. For documents not available on the website, please contact the Region 4 Freedom of Information Office.

Site Repository

Beaufort County Public Library
311 Scott Street
Beaufort, SC 29902

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