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USARMY/NASA Redstone Arsenal


Northern berm at the Redstone Arsenal site.

Additional Resources
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.
Human Exposure Under Control: The EPA is working to determine whether there are human exposures to contaminants
Ground water Migration Under Control: No
Sitewide Ready for Anticipated Use: No
Site Reuse/Redevelopment: The EPA is working to determine whether there are human exposures to contaminants
Site Manager: Michelle Thornton (thornton.michelle@epa.gov)

Current Site Status

The USARMY/NASA Redstone Arsenal site includes an active military base and the George C. Marshall Space Flight Center. Arsenal operations began at the site in the early 1940s. The EPA placed the site on the National Priorities List (NPL) in 1994 because of contaminated ground water, soil, sediment and surface water resulting from arsenal operations and waste disposal practices. The EPA, the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM), the U.S. Army (Army), and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) have investigated site conditions and taken steps to clean up the site to protect people and the environment from contamination. Site contamination does not currently threaten people living and working at or near the site. By conducting site investigation and cleanup activities, monitoring ground water, and placing institutional controls on the site, the EPA, ADEM, the Army and NASA continue to protect people and the environment from site contamination.

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Site Location and Background

The 38,300-acre site is located in Madison County, Alabama, just south of Huntsville. The site includes the 1,841-acre George C. Marshall Space Flight Center operated by NASA. The site also includes 36,459 acres controlled by the Army. This area includes an active military base, the arsenal and the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge. The base includes residential, commercial and recreational areas as well as training and medical centers. Industrial tenants also occupy the arsenal. The arsenal also includes areas for missile and rocket testing and munitions storage.

Residential and commercial land uses surround the site. The city of Huntsville borders the site to the north and east. The Tennessee River borders the site to the south. The city of Madison and the town of Triana border the site to the northwest and southwest, respectively.

Operations to produce and dispose of conventional and chemical munitions began at the arsenal in the early 1940s. In 1994, the EPA listed the site on the NPL. Recent operations have focused on development and testing of missiles and rockets.

View site loaction map.

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Threats and Contaminants

Site investigations found contamination in ground water, soil, sediment and surface water that could potentially harm people in the area. Contamination resulted from arsenal operations and waste disposal practices at the site. Contaminants of concern include solvents, metals, pesticides, chemical warfare material, and hazardous remnants from rocket fuel research, development and testing, including perchlorate.

NASA and the Army have addressed soil contamination. Institutional controls have been placed on portions of the site to restrict digging and land use. Fencing surrounds portions of the site.

Institutional controls also prohibit use of ground water at the site.

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Investigation and Cleanup Responsibility / Oversight

The Army leads investigation and cleanup activities at the military base portion of the site. The Army conducts activities under ADEM oversight as part of a Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) permit issued by ADEM.

NASA leads investigation and cleanup activities on the George C. Marshall Space Flight Center portion of the site, with oversight and technical support provided by the EPA and ADEM.

The Army and NASA coordinate regularly, sharing data and working together on technical issues.

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Site Cleanup Plan

Investigations and cleanup activities have focused on 25 areas, which the EPA refers to as operable units, or OUs. One of the OUs focuses on ground water contamination. Other OUs focus on areas of soil, sediment and surface water contamination.

Since 2004, the EPA has issued 10 cleanup plans (Records of Decision, or RODs) and one interim cleanup plan (Interim ROD) for OUs at the site. Major components of the cleanup plans include:

Summaries of site cleanup approaches are also available online in key site cleanup documents, including the RODs.

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Cleanup Progress

The Army and NASA have conducted many investigations and cleanup activities at the site.

The Army is currently investigating 248 areas within the site’s OUs. The Army has performed numerous cleanups in these areas. Of these 248 areas, 17 require interim actions according to the ADEM RCRA permit. These areas are chemical munitions disposal sites.

The EPA has completed assessments at the site and identified about 1,000 additional areas of potential contamination.

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Enforcement Activities

In 2001, the EPA, NASA and ADEM signed a Federal Facilities Agreement (FFA) for the George C. Marshall Space Flight Center portion of the site. The FFA integrates both NASA’s RCRA requirements and Superfund requirements. The FFA helps make sure that the parties will fully investigate environmental impacts associated with past and present activities. It also helps ensure that they will take appropriate cleanup actions. The FFA establishes schedules, priorities and enforceable milestones for cleanup activities.

In 2009, ADEM issued a RCRA permit for investigation and cleanup activities on the Army’s portion of the site. ADEM and the Army operate under the permit according to an alternative compliance schedule. The Army continues to fund site cleanup, monitoring and oversight activities according to the RCRA permit.

RODs online provide additional information on specific legal agreements for the site.

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Community Involvement

The Army and NASA have conducted a range of community involvement activities to solicit community input and make sure the public remains informed about site activities throughout the cleanup process. Outreach activities have included public notices, a mailing list, fact sheets and public meetings.

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Future Work

Site investigation and cleanup activities are ongoing.

Ground water monitoring and enforcement of institutional controls are ongoing.

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Additional Information

The EPA keeps additional site documents and information in a site information repository at the location below. The 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

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

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