PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT
FORT GEORGE G. MEADE
FORT MEADE, ANNE ARUNDEL, MARYLAND
Fort George G. Meade (FGGM) is located in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, midway between Baltimore, Maryland and Washington, D.C. It is located in an area of combined semi-rural and suburban land use. Originally the post consisted of 13,680 acres. In 1991, 7,600 acres were transferred to the Department of the Interior (DOI) for use as a wildlife refuge and research facility. Additional acreage comprising the Tipton Army Airfield has been proposed for release to Anne Arundel County. The county intends to operate the airfield as a regional airport.
FGGM's current mission is to provide a wide range of support to 114 tenant organizations. The population of FGGM includes approximately 8,000 military personnel, 25,000 civilian employees, and 5,700 family members of military personnel.
FGGM was listed on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) National Priorities List (NPL) of hazardous waste sites on July 22, 1998. FGGM was listed primarily because contaminated groundwater was discovered under the post and in the vicinity. Soil contamination has also been documented. Wastes stored at and disposed of in the source areas were generated from operations at the FGGM facility. The wastes include: municipal and domestic wastes; pesticides; solvents; polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs); inert material; and waste petroleum, oil, and lubricant products. Hazardous substances detected in the source areas include volatile organic compounds (VOCs), semivolatile organic compounds (SVOCs), metals, pesticides, and PCBs. Waste generating processes at FGGM were primarily related to routine construction activities, equipment and vehicle maintenance operations, airport operations and fire training activities. There is also a concern regarding unexploded ordnance (UXO) in former FGGM artillery impact areas currently under the control of the DOI.
ATSDR examined environmental information at Fort G.G. Meade for potential public health hazard. Four situations were found that ATSDR examined in detail. These are; off-post groundwater contamination in the area of the Active Sanitary Landfill, potential for UXO remaining in the DOI Patuxent Research Refuge (PRR), potential contamination of drinking water wells located within the PRR, and, potential contamination in soil remaining at Tipton Airfield. The potential for UXO remaining under the DOI PRR is considered an Indeterminate Public Health Hazard. The remaining three situations are considered No Apparent Public Health Hazard. The evaluation and conclusions are discussed in following sections of this document.
Fort George G. Meade (FGGM)(1) is located in the northwestern corner of Anne Arundel County, Maryland, midway between Baltimore, Maryland, and Washington, D.C. The boundaries of the facility include the Baltimore-Washington parkway to the northwest, the Little Patuxent River and AMTRAK railroad tracks to the southeast, residential areas and the Patuxent River to the southwest, and State Route 175 to the northeast (U.S. EPA, 1997). Figure 1 (page 27) depicts the location of this post.
Originally the post consisted of 13,680 acres. In 1991 and 1992, as a part of the Department of Defense (DOD) Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC), 8,100 acres were transferred to the Department of the Interior (DOI) for use as a wildlife refuge and research facility. Additional acreage comprising the Tipton Army Airfield has been proposed for release to Anne Arundel County. The county intends to operate the airfield as a regional airport.
FGGM's current mission is to provide a wide range of support to 114 tenant organizations from all four services and to several federal agencies. Major tenant units include the National Security Agency, the Defense Information School and the U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command. The population of FGGM includes approximately 8,000 military personnel, 25,000 civilian employees, and 5,700 family members of military personnel (U.S. Army, 1998).
Fort George G. Meade became an Army installation in 1917. Authorized by an Act of Congress in May 1917, it was one of 16 cantonments built for troops drafted for the war with the Central Powers in Europe. The post was originally named Camp Meade for the Civil War Union general, Major General George Gordon Meade. During World War I, more than 100,000 men passed through Fort Meade, a training site for three infantry divisions, three training battalions and one depot brigade. In 1928, the post was renamed Fort Leonard Wood, after the commander of United States forces in Cuba during the Spanish American War. The installation was permanently named Fort George G. Meade on March 5, 1929. Fort Meade became a training center during World War II, its ranges and other facilities used by more than 200 units and approximately 3,500,000 men between 1942 and 1946. The wartime peak was 70,000 military personnel. With the conclusion of World War II, Fort Meade reverted to routine peacetime activities but was later returned to build-up status. Many crises, including Korea, West Berlin, Cuba, and Vietnam-related problems, were to come (U.S. Army 1998).
One key post-World War II event at Fort Meade was the transfer from Baltimore, on June 15, 1947, of the Second U.S. Army Headquarters. This transfer brought an acceleration of post activity, because Second Army Headquarters exercised command over Army units throughout a then seven-state area. A second important development occurred on January 1, 1966, when the Second U.S. Army merged with the First U.S. Army. The consolidated headquarters moved from Fort Jay, N.Y. to Fort Meade to administer activities of Army installations in a 15-state area. In August 1990, Fort Meade began processing Army Reserve and National Guard units from several states for the presidential call-up in support of Operation Desert Shield. In addition to processing reserve and guard units, Fort Meade sent two of its own active duty units, the 85th Medical Battalion and the 519th Military Police Battalion, to Saudi Arabia. In all, approximately 2,700 personnel from 42 units deployed from Fort Meade during Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm. As described in the preceding section, Fort Meade provides support and services for 114 tenant units that include Headquarters, First U.S. Army-East, and the National Security Agency (NSA) (U.S. Army, 1998).
On July 28, 1998, FGGM was listed on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) National Priorities List (NPL) of hazardous waste sites. FGGM was listed primarily because contaminated groundwater was discovered under the post and in the vicinity. On-site soil contamination has also been documented.
Wastes stored at and disposed of in the source areas were generated from operations at the FGGM facility. The wastes include: municipal and domestic wastes; pesticides; solvents; polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs); inert material; and waste petroleum, oil, and lubricant products. Hazardous substances detected in the source areas include volatile organic compounds (VOCs), semivolatile organic compounds (SVOCs), metals, pesticides, and PCBs. Waste generating processes at FGGM were primarily related to routine construction activities, equipment and vehicle maintenance operations, airport operations and fire training activities. Although environmental evaluations are in the early stages, existing information is sufficient to suggest that soil contamination is generally localized. Contaminants found are generally solvents, metals, ordnance degradation products and fuels (U.S. EPA, 1997).
Environmental contaminants have been found principally in soil at various waste disposal and landfill areas and in groundwater associated with landfill operations, storage areas, and fire training areas. The extent of groundwater contamination has not been thoroughly studied and is not well understood but may reach off-post into areas to the southeast and south of the present FGGM boundaries. Information available attests that groundwater contamination has not affected local public water supplies or the post water supply. A concern also exists regarding unexploded ordnance (UXO) in former FGGM artillery impact areas currently under the control of the DOI (ATSDR, 1998). Figure 2 (page 28) depicts the primary areas of concern for hazardous chemical contamination.
As a result of the 1997 proposal to list FGGM on the NPL, ATSDR personnel visited the facility in September, 1997. The purpose of this visit was to evaluate the post and to determine its rank on ATSDR's priority list for completion of public health assessments.
During the initial visit ATSDR staff reviewed available site-specific information and visually inspected contaminated sites and areas where hazardous substances have been released into the environment. The focus of the visit was to determine whether people could come into contact with site contaminants at levels that pose health hazards. A second purpose of the visit was to recommend actions, if needed, to stop or prevent such exposures. ATSDR staff met with community members, representatives of the Army, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and state environmental regulators. ATSDR evaluated current situations and the potential for exposure of the community to contaminants from FGGM (ATSDR, 1998). Based on the preliminary evaluations, FGGM was assigned a low priority among overall ranking of DOD installations for initiation of a public health assessment. The 1997 visit provided an opportunity for ATSDR to update its information base on the facility and to obtain environmental information collected since the initial visit. In addition to the site tour and interviews conducted with FGGM personnel, ATSDR met with Department of the Interior personnel, toured the PRR, met with NSA and EPA representatives and made a presentation to the FGGM Restoration Advisory Board (RAB). At the RAB meeting, ATSDR met with various representatives from the community, state and local government agencies, NSA, DOI, and FGGM.
Exposure (contact with a contaminant) drives the ATSDR public health assessment process. Chemical contaminants disposed or released into the environment at the facility have the potential to cause adverse health effects. However, a release does not always result in exposure. People are exposed to a chemical only if they actually come in contact with the chemical. Until people actually come in contact with (are exposed to) contaminants, no potential for harmful health effects will exist. People may be exposed by breathing, eating, or drinking a substance containing the contaminant or by skin (dermal) contact with a substance containing the contaminant.
However, it is important to note that even when exposure occurs, the exposure does not always result in adverse health effects. The occurrence, type and severity of health effects for an individual from contact with a contaminant depend on the properties of the chemical, the exposure concentration (how much); the frequency and duration of exposure (how long); the route or pathway of exposure (breathing, eating, drinking, or skin contact); and the multiplicity of exposures (combination of contaminants). Once exposure occurs, characteristics such as age, sex, nutritional status, genetics, life style, and health status of the exposed individual influence how the individual absorbs, distributes, metabolizes, and excretes the contaminant. These factors and characteristics determine whether health effects occur and if they do, what types of health effects may result from exposure to a contaminant. It must be stressed that the mere existence of chemicals in the environment does not in itself mean that a public health hazard situation is occurring. Factors described above must be evaluated to determine whether these chemicals do, in fact, present a reasonable likelihood that a public health hazard exists.
In this section we evaluate possible pathways by which people can be exposed to contamination at FGGM. We do this by examining the possible exposure situations to determine whether people in the community are exposed to (or in contact with) the contamination. We then look at whether that exposure may cause adverse health effects(2). Appendix B lists the contamination sources evaluated at FGGM.
ATSDR concluded that four exposure situations should be evaluated for potential public health hazard or community health concerns: groundwater contamination in the area of the Active Sanitary Landfill (ASL); potential for presence of unexploded ordnance (UXO) in the DOI PRR; the potential for contaminated groundwater from FGGM sources, reaching drinking water wells in the DOI PRR; and, the potential for exposure to contaminants remaining under Tipton Airfield as the airfield becomes available for reuse. Table 1 summarizes ATSDR's public health conclusions for the exposure situations identified at FGGM. Following sections contain detailed discussions of each situation. Additional information describing ATSDR's conclusion categories is provided in Appendix C.
|- UXO in the DOI parcel||Indeterminate (Potential) Public Health Hazard|
|- Off-post Groundwater Contamination in the Area of the Active Sanitary Landfill |
- Potential Contamination of Drinking Water Wells Located Within the Patuxent Research Refuge
- Potential Exposure to Contamination Remaining at Tipton Airfield.
|No Apparent Public Health Hazard|
In October 1991, 7,600 acres of FGGM property were transferred to the DOI. In September, 1992 an additional 500 acres were also transferred. This area is now serving the DOI as the Patuxent Research Refuge (PRR) (SAIC, 1996).
Ongoing community concern exists, voiced by the RAB community co-chair, over the possibility that UXO may remain in the former impact areas now controlled by DOI, and that the current practice of public access to these areas may present the possibility of a limited public health hazard.
About one-half the area, primarily the eastern portion, was formerly used as firing ranges for either artillery or small arms. DOI currently uses this parcel as a wildlife refuge, with the primary public uses being hunting, hiking, fishing and educational visits by school groups. Although an ordnance survey and removal to a depth of six inches has been completed, a possibility remains that UXO buried more deeply under the DOI parcel could "migrate", especially as a result of frost heaving, to the surface where it would be accessible to the public. The potential for additional UXO being encountered was revealed during the September 1997 visit by ATSDR to the DOI area. Refuge personnel described recently finding a hand grenade lying on the surface within a few hundred yards of the visitor center. Other similar discoveries could be made of UXO within the DOI parcel.
Employees are aware that UXO might exist within PRR. Visitors to the DOI parcel are informed that UXO may be found on the ground surface and are warned not to collect these items as souvenirs. Access to PRR is diligently controlled by DOI. Public access to the 8,100 acres of property transferred to DOI is controlled through the Patuxent Research Refuge, North Tract Visitor Contact Station and Hunter Control center. Public use activities such as fishing, hiking, biking, horseback riding, wildlife observations and environmental education are conducted in designated areas of the North Tract and controlled through required check-in procedures at the Refuge's North Tract Visitor Contact Station. Hunting activities are also controlled through required check-in procedures conducted at the Refuge's Hunting Control center. Appendix D depicts the access permit provided to all visitors on entry into PRR. Visitors are instructed to refrain from touching any suspicious items the might be UXO and are asked to notify DOI personnel if suspected UXO is discovered. Any possible UXO discoveries would be reported to FGGM, and removal would be immediately undertaken by trained army personnel (U.S. DOI, 1999a).
FGGM formerly used large portions of the area for training involving explosive or spotting charges. Figure 3 (page 29) shows the firing areas, or range fans. Two UXO surveys were conducted in 1992 and 1994 on the 9,000 acres of the total BRAC package, including the area turned over to DOI. These surveys were constructed to confirm the presence of UXO to a depth of six inches. The objective of the surveys was to identify and delineate areas where UXO might be present, not to remove ordnance. Removal was considered to be an incidental benefit. In 1994, FGGM contracted for a study to evaluate the significance of any UXO remaining on the 9,000 acres and to evaluate the effectiveness of previous studies (SAIC, 1996).
The original comprehensive UXO surveys conducted in 1991 through 1993 discovered more than 14,000 UXO items. UXO items detected on the surface and to a depth of six inches below land surface (BLS) were visually examined and detonated by Army UXO disposal experts Figure 4 (page 30) depicts the locations of these items. A UXO item is defined as any remnant of ordnance fired on the site. This can include: fragments (shrapnel); dummy rounds; small arms ammunition (bullets) or actual unexploded live ordnance such as mortar, bazooka or artillery rounds. As shown by Figure 4, much of the UXO was located around the range fans and in the northern portion of the BRAC parcel, in the areas designated "DZ", "V" and "W", and Tipton Airfield (SAIC, 1996).
The 1994 study involved the surface and subsurface surveys on 30 acres within the total area. The 30 acres comprised 240 sample locations centered in 1/8th acre grids. The number and location of the actual samples were predetermined according to a statistical sampling plan. Magnetometers were used to a depth of 18 inches in the DOI parcel and up to 60 inches in the adjacent Tipton Field. Twelve live UXO were classified as small arms ammunition. Five of the items were found on the surface, 31 in the interval from zero to six inches BLS, five were found in the interval from seven to 12 inches BLS, three at 13 to 18 BLS, and six from 19 to 60 inches BLS. Where multiple small arms munitions were discovered in a single location, the discovery is considered "one item". These were all located in the DOI area. All discovered items were inspected by Army UXO experts and removed or detonated (SAIC, 1996).
The risk assessment performed by the Army assumed unlimited access throughout the DOI area (SAIC, 1996). Although in recent years usage for live-fire training has been limited to the range fan areas, records indicate that various explosive ordnance training occurred throughout the BRAC parcel over the history of FGGM.
The Army risk assessment concluded that a sufficient number of UXO probably remains on the BRAC parcel to lead to a "fairly high probability of encountering at least one UXO over time"(SAIC, 1996). UXO items can likely currently be encountered on the ground surface. Additionally, UXO items can be exhumed by the natural process of soil erosion or frost heaving. It must be stressed that an encounter does not necessarily imply an injury, but would obviously be viewed as representing a potential risk.
DOI maintains a visitor center in the BRAC parcel. All visitors must register at the center and carry a pass, signing out upon departure. As stated above, all visitors are informed that the area contains former firing ranges and that a potential exists that UXO might be encountered. DOI records for 1992 through 1998 indicate that between 9,113 (1992) and 21,467 (1995) visitors entered PRR for fishing, hiking/jogging, biking, wildlife viewing and photography. About 1,200 individuals participated in scouting activities. In addition, between 1,000 (1995) and 1,200 (1994) hunting permits were issued. The non-hunting/non-scouting visitors spent roughly two hours per visit. Hunters spent roughly ten to thirteen hours per visit. For most activities allowed within PRR, except hunting, visitors are requested to stay within defined areas, generally roads and pathways, which are much less likely to contain undiscovered UXO. Hunters are given a wider range of access within PRR (U.S. DOI, 1999b).
Visitors are notified by signs that check-in at the Visitor's Center is required. During the check-in, visitors are warned of the potential for encountering UXO items, lessening the likelihood that such items will be disturbed if found. The warnings also educate the visitor to the hazards so that an accidental disturbance is less likely.
In studies conducted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), it was found that the accidents resulting from accidental detonation of UXO on areas that were formerly military property comprised two categories. These are: accidents occurring when UXO was removed and tampered with by members of the public; or accidents occurring when employees of the entity currently in control of the property unknowingly dug into buried UXO (QuantiTech, 1997, Wilcox, 1997). The USACE did not find documentation of accidental detonations occurring in cases where the item was not actively disturbed in the above manners. As a result of the findings of these investigations by USACE, it appears that it is not likely that incidental contact with UXO items, such as walking over buried items, or unknowingly stepping on such items located on the surface, will result in detonations (QuantiTech, 1997, Wilcox, 1997). Although this is the case, it is obviously prudent for visitors to PRR to continue to follow the instructions given concerning avoiding contact with any UXO items found within the refuge. Although the risk would increase greatly if the round is disturbed, especially if picked up, handled, moved or otherwise disturbed, there does remain a small though definite potential that an unintentional accidental encounter could result in a harmful outcome via detonation of the UXO item.
Although UXO items will in all probability continue to surface within the PRR, it is unlikely that UXO will detonate unless tampered with. In accordance with current DOI policy at PRR, the public does have access to areas where UXO items might possibly be encountered. Because of continuing public access to PRR, ATSDR believes it would be prudent for DOI and the Army to determine a reasonable program for regular monitoring of UXO remaining in the parcel. This program should include a delineation of high risk areas for encounters, and the enactment of institutional controls of public access to those areas. The program should also include procedures for prompt removal, by authorized personnel, of UXO items found. In view of the findings of the USACE investigation acknowledging that UXO is still present, the program to educate visitors to the hazard presented in disturbing any such UXO items should continue to receive emphasis at PRR.
In summary, the following actions are recommended to further decrease the likelihood of a UXO-related accident;
1. Continue to target the education effort to reach the specific audience most likely to collect or otherwise actively disturb UXO discovered at PRR, i.e. individuals who might be tempted to "collect" UXO items, or any one who might be involved in digging or excavation activities;
2. consider greater control over access to formally delineated higher risk areas;
3. determine the time-frame for erosion or frost heaving and the subsequent exhumation of UXO; and,
4. Develop a cooperative plan for monitoring and removal to account for such potential exposure of buried UXO
The US Army has expertise to assist in these determinations and could work with DOI in developing these programs.
In 1994, as a part of the initial environmental investigation of the ASL, the Army received permission from several residents in Odenton and Woodwardsville area to collect water samples from private water wells (MDHMH, 1994). Atrazine, a widely used herbicide, was detected in several wells during sampling and analysis activities. See Figure 1 for location of this area. At this time, the source of the Atrazine, a commonly-used agricultural herbicide, is unknown. Atrazine has been a commonly-used water-soluble agricultural herbicide since 1959, and is frequently found in groundwater of areas that are currently agricultural or have been used for farming since 1959. If this area was previously used for agriculture (orchards, row crops, etc.), Atrazine in groundwater could be the result of agricultural application.
Atrazine was also commonly used as an herbicide in industrial areas. However, Army records do not show use of Atrazine on-post. Also, sample analyses of water from wells on-post have not detected Atrazine in the vicinity of the ASL. An Amtrak railyard located between the ASL and the homes may be a source of some of the Atrazine detected. Limited sampling collected by MDE on the Amtrak facility did not provide conclusive evidence to either confirm or refute this possibility.
In 1994, MDE analyzed water samples collected from eight private domestic wells in Odenton area, located in the vicinity of the ASL (MDHMH, 1994). The herbicide, Atrazine, was detected at low levels in several wells. Two wells, from one residence sampled in 1994, exceeded EPA recommended levels for long-term exposure (EPA Maximum Contaminant Level [MCL] of 3.0 micrograms per liter (µg/l). The maximum level of Atrazine detected, 10.97 micrograms per liter (µg/l), was not high enough to present an acute exposure (short-term) public health hazard . The other levels detected were not high enough to be considered a public health hazard. In 1997, ATSDR concurred with the MDE finding that, with the exception of the levels detected in the sample collected from the residence mentioned above, the Atrazine did not present a public health hazard (ATSDR, 1997). There were no adverse health effects reported by residents in the area sampled. As a conservative precaution, alternative water supplies were provided to the residences tested.
The analyses also revealed low levels (below levels that would present a health hazard) of solvent contamination in some of these wells. Based on data provided by MDE, the only detection that would represent a possible health concern was trichlorethene (TCE), detected in one off-post well at a concentration of 11.0 µg/l (above the EPA MCL of 5.0 µg/l for that chemical). This level of TCE is not considered to present a health hazard unless the water is used daily for many years as a source of drinking water. Exposure potential ceased with the provision of alternate water.
In 1995, in response to community concerns, MDE sampled an additional eight wells in the vicinity of the first private wells tested. Analyses of these samples detected Atrazine in some of the wells, but at levels below the EPA MCL. Again, as a precaution, MDE provided owners of these wells with public water supplies. In further sampling, an additional 11 wells were sampled by MDE, again detecting Atrazine at levels below MCLs in some of the wells. Other contaminants, solvents and metals, were also detected at low levels (below EPA and state levels of concern) in wells in the ASL area, both on- and off-post. Although no contaminants were detected at levels that would present health hazards, again as a precaution, the state provided water to the owners of tested wells.
In summary, for these 19 additional wells, the contaminant levels detected were not sufficient to result in long-term or short-term public health hazards. Because no additional wells were found with potentially harmful levels of Atrazine (or other chemicals), MDE has not sampled further. MDE continues to provide a total of 27 residences with water supplies.
In 1996, FGGM installed four monitoring wells in the off-post area adjacent to post boundaries, near the ASL. Because shallow groundwater in this area flows from the direction of the ASL toward the neighborhood, these wells are located in the western portion of the neighborhood, generally between the ASL and the residences. Three wells are located in the shallow water table, and one is in the underlying confined aquifer. Analysis of samples collected from these wells found Atrazine at levels below 1 µg/l, below the levels that would be expected to present public health hazards (A.D. Little, 1997).
Atrazine is no longer used. As a result, there is not likely a continuing source of contamination. Also, because no one is currently drinking water from the private wells described above and because no additional wells have been found with hazardous levels of contaminants, the groundwater in this area does not appear to represent a present or future public health hazard.
During early phases of the remediation at FGGM, concerns were voiced that contamination from FGGM might be migrating southward into the PRR, because the regional groundwater movement is generally north to south. Two drinking water wells are located in the PRR to the south, possibly downgradient of the DRMO yard. The concern was that these wells could potentially be receiving (or receiving in the future) contaminants from FGGM sources. Hunters, other refuge visitors and DOI personnel are the potential receptors. Information on the chemical analyses of water from these wells was evaluated to confirm that contamination of these wells is not occurring. If water in these wells was contaminated, the hazard to visitors would be from infrequent use, not regular and frequent usage such as might be expected in a domestic well-usage situation. The possible hazard to DOI employees is evaluated for longer-term exposure. However, recent environmental studies show groundwater from the DRMO to be flowing southeast, away from the wells, so that it is not likely that DRMO groundwater contamination could reach these wells (USACE, 1999).
Prior to the conduct to the recent study, concerns were expressed that the PRR wells might contain contamination. DOI had sample analyses conducted for the two wells in 1998. According to sample analyses at these wells, no contaminants were observed above detection levels (U.S. DOI, 1999c). In order to provide assurance that consuming water from these wells does not present a likely public health hazard, ATSDR evaluated the results of this analysis. A summary of the analysis is presented below.
The chemicals analyzed for include: solvents, metals, PCBs PCP, dioxin, PAHs and pesticides. The detection levels used are low enough that any hazardous chemicals in the water from these wells would be present at levels that would not represent public health hazards. Although the sampling was a one-time event, the lack of contaminant detections does not suggest that there should be any concern for contamination existing in these wells in the past. Because there are currently no known sources of contamination to these wells, it is unlikely that higher levels that might have presented a public health hazard would have been present in the past or will be present in the future.
Tipton Army Airfield (TAA) was closed in 1995 and scheduled to be turned over to Anne Arundel County for use as a municipal airfield. Potential sources of contamination at the airfield are: Fire training areas, fueling areas and DRMO. Although groundwater is contaminated under portions of TAA, the contamination is localized. No water supply wells are located within the parcel, and soil contamination is not sufficient to contribute substantially to further contaminate groundwater or thereby present a possible public health hazard introduction of contamination to groundwater. Remediation activities are under way to mitigate any soil contamination remaining at TAA from incidental exposure. The only potential pathway for contamination would be short-term and infrequent exposure via dermal contact with soil, or accidental ingestion or inhalation of minute quantities of soil or dust. Existing levels are not sufficient to present a public health hazard from the potential for incidental contact (USACE, 1998a,1998b). Therefore, the contaminated areas within the former TAA are not likely to pose a public health hazard.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) completed a comprehensive ordnance sweep conducted from October 1995 until April1997, removing all items detected across the Tipton parcel (HFAI, 1998). This removal was completed to a depth of four feet. As a result, there is little likelihood that UXO remains at present to pose potential public health hazards. As a result of the depth of clearance, it is not likely that UXO would be present to migrate to the surface in the foreseeable future. Therefore UXO at TAA is not likely to pose a public health hazard for the future.
ATSDR relies on information provided in the referenced documents to prepare this public health assessment. The agency assumes that adequate quality assurance and quality control measures were followed with regard to chain-of-custody procedures, laboratory procedures, and data reporting. The validity of the analyses and the conclusions drawn in this document are determined by the availability and reliability of the referenced information.
The majority of the environmental data presented in this public health assessment are from the Remedial Investigation (RI) preliminary data. Generally, the methodology used in the RI activity is appropriate for characterizing contamination at the facility. Additional information collection is planned during completion of RI activities. If future information is determined to affect the conclusions and results of this public health assessment, the information will be evaluated and appropriate measures will be taken to protect public health. This information will be evaluated by ATSDR. Conclusions and recommendations of this PHA will be modified if appropriate and necessary.
ATSDR investigated the issue of public health concerns through meetings; correspondence; telephone conversations and information from the facility, EPA, state agencies and community members. Specific community public health concerns raised have been related to groundwater contamination at FGGM, including the Atrazine issue and the potential for contamination from the southern portion of FGGM moving offsite. These have been addressed in the environmental evaluation sections above. To reiterate, it is not likely that either of these situations poses a public health hazard.
- Concerns have been expressed by community members that the NSA facility is contributing contamination via air, surface water and groundwater environmental pathways.
NSA is a tenant organization located in the northwestern portion of FGGM. Industrial processes that require waste management are ongoing at the NSA facility that may contribute contaminants to the environment. Because of the nature of mandated activities at NSA, much of what occurs within its boundaries is classified and not available for general public scrutiny. Although this is the case, the facility is regulated under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976 (RCRA).
As a part of this regulatory oversight, the state of Maryland and the EPA oversee waste producing activities at NSA. All emissions, whether to the air, water or soil, are regulated and controlled through this process. Air emissions and solid waste activities are regulated by RCRA permits issued by the state of Maryland. These permits require monitoring of the waste produced, and limit such wastes in a manner that is protective of the environment and public health (NSA,1998a, 1998b).
All waste water produced by NSA is piped to the FGGM water treatment facility and treated to safe levels before being released into the Little Patuxent River. This activity is also regulated by the state of Maryland (NSA, 1998c). As a part of the permit process, NSA is required by law to monitor the nature and extent of any release of potentially hazardous substances into the environment. If such releases occur, the law requires that the potential for harm be mitigated, so that public health hazards are not likely to occur.
- During the Public Comment period, a comment was received regarding the potential for public health hazard from UXO "encounters" within the PRR.
Prior to being turned over to the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), the area currently known as Patuxent Research Refuge (PRR) was extensively used for various training activities involving the use of live and practice ordnance. As described in previous sections of this public health assessment, UXO surveys and removals have been conducted in PRR. UXO removal experts indicate that it is not technically possible to survey and clear completely an area the size of PRR to insure that absolutely no UXO items remain. This is particularly the case for area in which it is desirable to retain natural vegetation such as a wildlife research refuge. In fact, both the U.S. Army and DOI acknowledge that despite these actions, it is likely that UXO items remain undiscovered within the PRR. While many of the items remaining, such as unarmed practice rounds, metal fragments or small arms ammunition, are not potentially explosive, it is possible that explosive ordnance remains and may be encountered. Regarding the potential for an encounter, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has provided information to ATSDR that supports that in the years since World War II, there are no records of accidents at any former U.S. Army firing ranges, involving the public, in which the UXO item was not actively disturbed or tampered-with. For this reason, for continuing public access to PRR, the most practical and reasonable action that can be undertaken by the DOI is to develop a plan for monitoring and removing any UXO found and to provide sufficient information to ensure that visitors understand that UXO is likely present, might be encountered and that the risk for harm is far greater if the item is disturbed. The following actions will be necessary to ensure protection of the public from potential UXO encounter hazards: continued coordination between the DOI and U.S. Army in providing educational material to visitors; continued periodic monitoring the UXO situation at PRR; and the removal, by authorized UXO removal personnel, of any items detected.
We did not evaluate health outcome databases because no exposures posing potential public health hazards were identified.
ATSDR's Child Health Initiative recognizes that the unique vulnerabilities of infants and children demand special emphasis in communities faced with contamination of their water, soil, air, or food. Children are at greater risk than are adults from certain kinds of hazardous substances emitted from waste sites and emergency events. They are more likely to be exposed because they play outdoors and they often bring food into contaminated areas. They are shorter than adults, which means they breathe dust, soil, and heavy vapors that are close to the ground. Children are also smaller, resulting in higher doses of chemical exposure per body weight. The developing body systems of children can sustain permanent damage if toxic exposures occur during critical growth stages. Most importantly, children depend completely on adults for risk identification and management decisions, housing decisions, and access to medical care.
ATSDR evaluated the likelihood for children living in the vicinity of FGGM or visiting in FGGM or the PRR to be exposed to base contaminants at levels of health concern. ATSDR did not identify any past, present, or future situations in which children were or would be likely to encounter chemical contaminants at FGGM, other than incidental exposure. Although children live in the vicinity, contamination is located in restricted or inaccessible areas (with the exception of areas within PRR discussed in above sections) and in unused groundwater aquifers.
Concerning the potential for UXO encounters at PRR, DOI provides adequate warning to parents or other guardians of children who are likely to visit the facility. As long as parents and guardians maintain reasonable control over small children, harmful incidents are not likely to occur. DOI educational and warning materials should also be sufficient to warn older individuals, such as teenaged children, of the possible hazard of encountering live UXO. Additional education may help reduce the likelihood that these warnings might be ignored.
- Atrazine contamination in groundwater in the vicinity of the ASL does not appear to present a public health hazard. Based on the absence of Atrazine in samples within FGGM boundaries in the vicinity of the ASL, FGGM does not appear to be a likely source for this contamination, and it is not likely that a source will be discovered, in view of the widespread agricultural use of Atrazine in the past.
- An encounter with a UXO item could possibly occur in PRR. The probability of an encounter has been reduced through the current education program and access restrictions at PRR. Historical data suggest that the probability of an encounter resulting in a detonation is probably limited to instances where the UXO is actively disturbed, such as being picked up and tampered with, or where buried UXO is "dug into". It is unlikely that a harmful outcome would occur during an incidental or accidental encounter. However, prudence suggests that education, restrictions and a monitoring plan will further reduce the likelihood of public health hazard.
- The single sampling event for the two PRR wells did not detect contaminants that could present public health hazards. Recent information on the groundwater movement from the DRMO area confirms that these wells are not at risk.
- UXO removal at TAA has substantially decreased the likelihood that an encounter will occur. Soil contamination is not at levels that present a potential public health hazard.
- The U.S. Army and regulators are enacting remediation activities to decrease or eliminate onsite contamination in soil and groundwater, and to decrease or eliminate the potential for migration of groundwater contaminants offsite from the facility.
- DOI maintains an active visitor education process for UXO on PRR.
- Groundwater flow information has been provided for the FGGM DRMO yard, confirming that flow direction is away from the PRR wells.
- Additional UXO safety educational activities targeting the "higher risk" populations (i.e. individuals who might wish to collect UXO) should be considered.
- The Army should work with DOI to continue monitoring the UXO situation at PRR and to determine the likelihood that an unintentional and accidental encounter with UXO will result in a harmful outcome at PRR. Additionally, safe removal should be undertaken by authorized personnel for any items discovered.
A. D. Little, Inc., 1997, Off-Post Drilling and Sampling Results and Surface Water Sampling Results Fort Meade Feasibility Study and Remedial Investigation/ Site Inspection Fort George G. Meade, Maryland, prepared for U.S. Army Environmental Center, April 1997.
ATSDR, 1997, ATSDR Record of Activity, Odenton Atrazine, June 25, 1997.
ATSDR, 1998, Fort George G. Meade, Site Summary Report, January 1998.
Human Factors Applications, Inc. 1998, Final - Ordnance and Explosives Removal Report, Ordnance and Explosives Removal Action, Tipton Army Airfield, Fort George G. Meade, prepared for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, August 1998.
National Security Agency (NSA), 1998a, National Security Agency 1997 Hazardous Waste Report, 27 February, 1998.
National Security Agency (NSA), 1998b, National Security Agency Emission Certification Report and Air Toxics Certification, 1 April, 1998.
National Security Agency (NSA), 1998c, Unpublished Report from NSA to ATSDR on Wastewater Discharge from the National Security Agency, 27 February, 1998.
Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (MDHMH), 1994, Report to Anne Arundel County Health Department, November 1994.
QuantiTech, Inc., 1997, Fort Ord Comparative Ordnance and Explosive Final Report, Technical Report 97R031, prepared for U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville, AL., October 1997.
Science Application International Corp. (SAIC), 1996, Draft Final Fort George G. Meade BRAC Parcel UXO Survey and Data Analysis, prepared for U.S. Army Environmental Center, October 1996.
U.S. Army, 1998, Fort Meade History, Fort George G. Meade Homepage (http://www.mdw.army.mil/mhistory.htm )
U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, 1999, Summary Report Phase IIIA Groundwater Investigation - Covered Storage Facility/Former DPDO Salvage Yard, Fort Meade, Maryland. Dames and Moore, June 11, 1999.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). 1998a, Fort George G. Meade Helicopter Hanger Area and Fire Training Area Remedial Investigation Report. Final Document. ICF Kaiser, October 1998.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). 1998b, Fort George G. Meade Inactive Landfills 1, 2, 3, and Clean Fill Dump Remedial Investigation Report. Final Document. ICF Kaiser, August 1998.
U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), 1999a, Correspondence from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to ATSDR, PRR Access Permit, March 1999.
U.S. Department of Interior (DOI), 1999b, Correspondence from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to ATSDR, PRR Yearly North Tract Public Use Data, March 1999.
U.S. Department of the Interior, 1999c, Correspondence from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to ATSDR, Chemical Results form Water Well Analyses Well #1-AA 88-7584-Visitor Contact Station, and Well #2-Deer Check-In Station, March 1999.
U.S. EPA, 1997, National Priority List (NPL) Site Narrative, Fort George G. Meade, U.S. EPA Homepage (http://firstname.lastname@example.org)
Wilcox, Robert, 1997, Institutional Controls for Ordnance Response, presented to UXO Forum, Nashville, TN, for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Huntsville District, May 30, 1997.
1. All acronyms and abbreviations used in this document are defined in Appendix A
2. ATSDR and other agencies, such as EPA and Maryland regulatory agencies have developed screening values or comparison values to provide guidelines for estimating minimum concentrations of a contaminant that may possibly cause adverse health effects, given a standard exposure rate and standard body weights. These values are used as screening mechanisms when evaluating contaminant levels detected in sample analyses to determine whether the levels found require more detailed examination.