NPL Site Narrative for Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant
SUNFLOWER ARMY AMMUNITION PLANT
The Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant is a Government-owned, contractor-operated military installation, currently operated by Hercules, Inc. The installation began operations in 1942. The primary operational mission of the installation was to manufacture smokeless powder and single-, double-, and triple-base propellants. Additional facility operations included manufacture/regeneration of nitric and sulfuric acids and munitions proving. Since 1971, the majority of the installation has been in a standby, inactive status. As of 1989, the nitroguanidine production area was in operation. The majority of the industrial infrastructure remains at the site. The 9,065-acre site is located in a sparsely populated rural area. Land use in the vicinity is primarily agricultural. The site is situated on a broad ridge, with most of the installation lying between two perennial streams-Captain Creek on the west and Kill Creek on the east.
Potential sources of contamination at the site include production line areas, magazine storage areas, and approximately 70 solid waste management units (SWMUs). The SWMUs are comprised of a diverse group of sources, including surface impoundments, ditches, sumps, projectile ranges, burning grounds, and landfills. Based on availability of analytical data, a total of five surface impoundment SWMUs were selected as hazardous substance sources for the HRS evaluation: Pond A, Pond B, Ponds 3A/3B, Ponds 4A/4B, and Ponds 5A/5B. Each of these five surface impoundments (also known as settling/blender ponds) was designed to receive waste material generated during munitions manufacturing processes at the site. Therefore, all five of the sources are associated with the same operational mission.
Analytical data associated with numerous past sampling events, particularly the 1988 remedial investigation (RI), have indicated the presence of a wide range of hazardous substances at the site. The primary types of hazardous substances detected at the site are inorganic compounds and explosives/nitrated compounds. Samples of surface water and sediment collected during the RI from Kill Creek downstream of the site revealed elevated levels of mercury and arsenic. People fish in Kill Creek downstream of the site. Kill Creek is also a habitat used by an endangered fish species, the pallid sturgeon, and a State-designated threatened species, the flathead chub.
The 1988 SI and a 1987 groundwater contamination survey conducted by the U.S. Army Environmental Hygiene Agency (AEHA) indicate that sources at the Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant facility have released hazardous substances to the groundwater.
In addition to periodic investigations initiated by AEHA and the U.S. Army Toxic and Hazardous Materials Agency, the Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant facility has been subject to periodic RCRA activities, including groundwater monitoring assessments, an operation and maintenance inspection, a comprehensive monitoring evaluation, and a RCRA facility assessment. Throughout the operational history of the facility, various liquid discharges have been permitted under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System.
In 1971, an accidental release of ammonia to Kill Creek resulted in a fish kill, and EPA levied a fine against the facility.
For more information about the hazardous substances identified in this narrative summary, including general information regarding the effects of exposure to these substances on human health, please see the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) ToxFAQs. ATSDR ToxFAQs can be found on the Internet at ATSDR - ToxFAQs (http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxfaqs/index.asp) or by telephone at 1-888-42-ATSDR or 1-888-422-8737.