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News Releases from Region 01

EPA Signs Two Clean Up Decisions in a Continued Effort to Protect Cape Cod Drinking Water

Contact Information: 
Kate Melanson (melanson.kate@epa.gov)

Boston- In its ongoing efforts to protect the Cape Cod aquifer from contamination from historical military training activities, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued final cleanup strategies for two contaminated areas at Camp Edwards.

EPA, in consultation with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (Mass DEP), has recently determined the appropriate cleanup approaches for the Small Arms Ranges and for the "J-3" Range. Under EPA's enforcement orders governing Joint Base Cape Cod (formerly Massachusetts Military Reservation), EPA is requiring the U.S. Army National Guard to complete the cleanups at the Small Arms Ranges and the J-3 Range. The military training ranges are located above the Cape Cod Aquifer, the sole source of drinking water for the Upper Cape.

The Small Arms Ranges refers to a group of 40 active and inactive ranges where small arms ammunition has been used for military training since World War II. Small arms range impacts to soil and groundwater include propellant-related chemicals, including lead, antimony, nitroglycerine and 2,4-DNT deposited on the ground surface at firing points, and metals associated with projectiles including lead, copper, tungsten and antimony.

The Small Arms Ranges cleanup includes:

  • At several ranges, removing contaminated soil that exceeds health-based standards to eliminate threats to the Cape Cod Aquifer.
  • At a number of other ranges, monitoring groundwater over the long term and controlling land use to provide early warning of any future groundwater contamination.
  • At other ranges, EPA has determined that the response actions EPA has overseen to date are sufficient to protect human health.

The J3- Range, also at Camp Edwards, is in the southeast portion of the Joint Base Cape Cod. Military small arms training, munitions testing, and munitions disposal all occurred in the J3 Range from 1935 through the late 1990's. EPA's selected cleanup for the J-3 Range includes:

  • Extracting contaminated groundwater to reduce contaminant levels in the aquifer;
  • Using a combination of monitoring natural processes in the groundwater, controlling land use, and sampling to verify that all sources of contamination have been addressed, and that human health is being sufficiently protected; and
  • Performing soil sampling and geophysical investigations to ensure that any soil contamination that poses a threat to the Aquifer is removed as part of the cleanup.


Joint Base Cape Cod is a 22,000-acre property that has been used for military training activities since 1911. The base is located over a sole source aquifer that provides drinking water for residents of Cape Cod. Two environmental cleanup programs (one implemented by the Army, the other by the Air Force), are addressing the areas of soil and groundwater contamination that have resulted from fuel spills and other past activities on site. The U.S. Air Force is addressing contamination from activity at the Otis Air Force Base in the southern portion of MMR under the Federal Superfund Program. The U.S. Army is addressing contamination at Camp Edwards in the northern portion of JBCC under the authority of the Safe Drinking Water Act. Both cleanup programs are progressing with oversight from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP).