PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT
U.S. ARMY UMATILLA DEPOT ACTIVITY
HERMISTON, UMATILLA COUNTY, OREGON
U.S. Army Umatilla Chemical Depot (UMCD) is in Umatilla and Morrow Counties, Oregon. The facility encompasses an area of about 19,728 acres. UMCD consists of property formerly known as the Umatilla Depot Activity (UMDA). UMDA was established in 1941 as an ordnance facility for storing conventional munitions in support of the United State's entry into World War II. In 1962, the Army began storing chemical munitions at the facility. The facility was placed on the U.S. EPA National Priorities List NPL) in 1987. The Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission in 1988 listed UMDA for closure, which is scheduled for 2004, making the land available for private sale and use after that time. Current plans call for the facility to be made available for wildlife management, commercial and industrial development, and, possibly for agricultural use.
Conventional (explosive) ordnance is no longer stored at UMCD. Chemical weapons are stored at a separate facility within the boundaries of the depot. These weapons are scheduled to be destroyed by 2004. No transfer of land will be made until the chemical weapons stored within the facility are neutralized.
No manufacturing operations have been conducted at the former UMDA, but testing, rework and demolition operations have been performed in several areas throughout the facility, notably the Explosive Washout Plant area and the Ammunition Demolition Activity (ADA) area. Contamination is not widespread. The primary environmental contaminants at the facility are explosive ordnance chemicals, metals (primarily lead, barium, cadmium and chromium) and unexploded ordnance (UXO). Contaminated environmental media include onsite soil and groundwater. For remedial activity purposes, eight Operable Units (OUs) have been delineated. These OUs consist of a washout area and lagoons, an ammunition disposal area and numerous smaller waste areas located throughout the site.
Contaminated groundwater is a principal potential public health exposure issue. However, the contaminant plume has not reached offsite at this time, so that this contaminated groundwater is not considered a Public Health Hazard. Remediation plans call for treating the contaminated groundwater, reducing the possibility that contamination will be a public health hazard when the facility is released to the public.
Additionally, unexploded ordnance (UXO) had been found within the Ammunition Disposal Area (ADA). Remedial activities underway include remediation of contaminated soils and a geophysical survey for buried UXO. Public access to this area is not permitted and institutional restrictions such as fences, signs, locked and guarded entrances maintain this restriction. Future use plans call for access to the ADA to be limited to the Oregon National Guard, for small arms training. Soil contamination and the possibility of UXO in this area are not considered to be public health hazards, and continued access restrictions should prevent their becoming hazards.
Contaminated soil in the ADA and in the rest of the facility is not accessible to the public, so that exposure is not possible. Remediation plans call for the removal of contaminated soil. Any remaining contaminants are to be at levels that will not be a public health hazard.
The public health assessment evaluation of UMCD concludes that there are No Public Health Hazards related to environmental contamination at the former UMDA.
Public health issues related to chemical weapon disposal are being addressed by the National Center for Environmental Health (NCEH), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Umatilla Chemical Depot (UMCD) (NOTE: acronyms and abbreviations used in this document are defined in Appendix A) is in northeastern Oregon. It lies approximately 3 miles south of the Columbia River, in Umatilla and Morrow Counties, Oregon (population 59,250, and 7,650, respectively). The facility is located about 12 miles northwest of Hermiston (population about 10,050) (See Figure 1). There is currently no on-post housing.
The Depot occupies a roughly rectangular area of 19,728 acres. The U.S. Army owns about
17,054 acres. The remaining acreage is covered by restrictive easements. The surrounding area is
sparsely populated. The predominant land use is agricultural, supporting both livestock and
numerous crops (1).
The facility was established in 1941 as an ordnance facility for storing conventional munitions in support of the United State's entry into World War II. The construction of 1,001 ammunition storage igloos began in February 1941. Subsequently, the functions of the Depot were extended to include ammunition demolition (1945), renovation (1947) and maintenance (1955). The U.S. Army began storing chemical munitions at the facility in 1962 (2).
No manufacturing operations have been conducted at the former UMDA, but testing, rework and demolition operations have been performed in several areas throughout the facility, notably the Explosive Washout Plant area and the Ammunition Demolition Activity (ADA) area (2).
Current provisions of the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) program call for closing UMCD upon completion of the Chemical Stockpile Disposal Program in 2004, and making the land available for private sale and use. Even though conventional ordnance-related remediation at UMCD is scheduled to be completed prior to destruction of the chemical weapons stockpile, no transfer of land will be made until the destruction of the chemical weapons at UMCD is complete. Current plans call for the facility to be made available for wildlife management, agriculture, commercial and industrial use, with the ADA being turned over the Oregon National Guard. (2,3). The Umatilla Chemical Depot (UMCD) will be retained by the U.S. Army until 2004, when all chemical weapons have been destroyed. Even though remediation at UMDA is scheduled to be completed prior to destruction of the chemical weapons stored in the UMCD, no transfer of land will be made at the facility until the chemical weapons stored within UMCD are neutralized.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) placed the facility on the National Priorities List (NPL) in 1987 because of contamination from the former washout lagoons. For remedial activity purposes, the facility has delineated eight Operable Units (OUs). These OUs consist
primarily of areas for demilitarization and disposal of explosive ordnance. Figure 2 presents their locations. Table 1 lists the OUs, contaminated media (e.g. soil, groundwater), the potential contaminants and the targeted cleanup goals for each OU. The primary environmental contaminants at the former UMDA are explosive ordnance chemicals, and metals related to demilitarized ordnance, and unexploded ordnance disposed in the ADA (2).
Contamination is not widespread. Onsite soil and groundwater are the primary contaminated
environmental media. There are no verified completed human exposure pathways. Public access
to the facility is currently prohibited. Contaminated areas are located in remote and inaccessible
areas. Onsite, the OUs are fenced, guarded and secured.
Chemical Weapons Storage Facility Within the Facility: Chemical weapons storage facilities are operated under the U.S. Army Chemical and Biological Defense Command. Currently 12% of the nation's stockpiled chemical munitions are stored within UMCD. Environmental activities involving the stockpile are regulated under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). In general terms, RCRA regulates the transport, storage and disposal of industrial waste. Regulatory oversight for RCRA is provided by the U.S. EPA and the state of Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (ODEQ).
In accordance with 50 U.S.C. (War and National Defense), (Chapter 32) section 1521, that mandates the destruction of chemical weapons by December 31, 2004, the U.S. Army plans to build and operate an incineration facility to treat the chemical weapons stockpiled at UMCD. The storage operations for this type of facility are regulated under the above-cited act and RCRA, with regulatory oversight by U.S. EPA and ODEQ. Additionally, the storage, maintenance, transport and demilitarization of such weapons is overseen, in an advisory capacity, by the National Center for Environmental Health (NCEH), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (5).
In 1986, in response to public concern about the potential health threat posed by the disposal of chemical weapons, Congress passed Public Law 99-145, which requires the Department of Defense (DOD) to dispose of chemical weapon stockpiles. This law also requires DOD to consult with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) when developing plans for this disposal. HHS delegated the responsibility for these consultations to NCEH. In fulfillment of this mandate, NCEH provides extensive support and coordination in the development of safeguards used in the destruction of chemical weapons stockpiles and has provided assistance to each of the U.S. Army's nine stockpile facilities, including UMCD, in implementing site-specific safety programs. In addition to evaluating procedures addressing the safe handling and destruction of the chemical weapons, NCEH also reviews emergency plans and procedures for facility personnel, protection of the local communities' health during these demilitarization activities, and the extensive planning and training for community response in the event of an accident. NCEH also works with state and local medical and public health authorities in
|Table 1: Operable Units at the Facility|
|OU||Building/Location||Contaminated Media||Potential Contaminants||Target Clean-Up Levels or Actions Taken||ATSDR Comparison Level|
|1||Deactivation Furnace||Soil||metals (lead)||Lead 500 ppm||lead 500 ppm|
|2||Washout Lagoon||Soil||RDX, TNT, some HMX||RDX 30 ppm
TNT 30 ppm
|3||Washout Lagoon||Groundwater||Explosive ordnance chemicals||TNB 1.8 ppb
DNB 4.0 ppb
NB 20 ppb
TNT 2.8 ppb
2,4DNT 0.6 ppb
2,6DNT 1.2 ppb
HMX 350 ppb
RDX 2.1 ppb
Tetryl 400 ppb
|0.5 ppb child RMEG
5 ppb child RMEG
1.0 ppb CREG 2.0 LTHA
400 ppb LTHA
2.0 ppb LTHA
10,000 ppb MCL*
|4||ADA||Soil||metals (primarily lead, cadmium, chromium), explosive ordnance chemicals, unexploded ordnance||lead 500 ppm
cadmium 28 ppm
chromium 40 ppm
RDX 52 ppm
1,3,5TNB 2.3 ppm
2,4,6 TNT 23 ppm
2,4DNT 1.9 ppm
40 ppm child EMEG
6 ppm CREG, 2000 ppm intermediate child EMEG-- NB - 30 ppm child RMEG 20 ppm CREG 1000 ppm EMEG
|5||Miscellaneous sites||Soil||metals ( primarily lead, cadmium, chromium)||lead 500 ppm
cadmium 27 ppm
chromium 3.71 ppm
40 ppm child EMEG
|6||Washout Plant||Soil||explosive ordnance chemicals||HMX 5 ppm avg.
RDX 2 ppm avg.
TNT 4 ppm avg.
|100 ppm intermediate Child
6 CREG 2000 int child EMEG
20 ppm CREG
|7||Active Landfill||Soil||no analytes exceeding regulatory levels||No action||--|
|8||Inactive Landfill||Soil||no analytes exceeding regulatory levels||No action||--|
|EXPLANATION OF COMPARISON
* Comparison Levels for Drinking Water
carrying out its mission. For additional information, NCEH can be directly contacted at the address and telephone numbers listed below (5).
Special Programs Group (F-29)
National Center for Environmental Health
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
4770 Buford Highway, N.E.
Atlanta, GA 30341-3724
Telephone: (770) 488-7070
Fax: (770) 488-7075
ATSDR Involvement: After ATSDR entered into a memorandum of understanding with the Department of Defense (DOD) in 1991, ATSDR staff visited the 96 DOD installations then on the NPL and ranked them according to their potential public health hazards. ATSDR personnel visited the facility in August, 1991. On the initial visit ATSDR staff reviewed the available site-specific information and visually inspected the contaminated sites and areas where hazardous substances have been released into the environment. The focus of the visit was to determine if people could come into contact with site contaminants at levels that pose a health hazard, and if needed, to recommend actions to stop or prevent such exposures. The former UMDA's priority for the conduct of a public health assessment was relatively low among rankings of DOD installations. ATSDR staff made a second visit in November, 1996 to obtain updated environmental information collected during remedial activities occurring since 1991. ATSDR staff met with representatives of the Army, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and state environmental regulators. ATSDR evaluated the current situations and the potential for ongoing exposure of the community to contaminants from the former UMDA.