Skip directly to search Skip directly to A to Z list Skip directly to site content

PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT

FORT RICHARDSON (U.S. ARMY)
FORT RICHARDSON
ANCHORAGE COUNTY, ALASKA




SUMMARY

In 1988 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) placedFort Richardson on the hazardous waste compliance docket. In1991 the Army entered into a Resource Conservation and RecoveryAct (RCRA) Federal Facilities Compliance Agreement with EPA. Atwo-party agreement with the state of Alaska was signed in 1993. The base was proposed for the EPA National Priorities List inJune 1993, and listed in June 1994. Fort Richardson, located adjacent to Anchorage, Alaska, currently encompasses an area of about 62,000 acres. For remedial activity purposes, four Operable Units (OUs) have been delineated. These OUs consist of a landfill, disposal areas and spills sites, fire-fighting training areas, tank storage areas and Eagle River Flats, an artillery firing range.

The principal public health exposure issue is the consumption ofwhite phosphorous-contaminated waterfowl from Eagle River Flats.Although waterfowl contamination by white phosphorous has beendocumented, it is not likely that people would consume sufficientcontaminated waterfowl to result in a public health hazard. Additionally, extensive remediation activities are underway toeliminate the white phosphorous from Eagle River Flats.

Institutional controls limit access to source areas, operableunits and abandoned structures, have eliminated possible exposures to other sites of contamination andphysical hazards within Fort Richardson. However, if land use changes, the likelihood of human exposure should be re-evaluated by the Army, the EPA, the state of Alaska, or ATSDR.

INTRODUCTION


The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) wasestablished under the mandate of the Comprehensive EnvironmentalResponse, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) of 1980. (Note: Appendix A provides a listing of abbreviations andacronyms used in this report.) This act, also known as the"Superfund" law, authorized the U.S. Environmental ProtectionAgency (EPA) to conduct clean-up activities at hazardous wastesites. EPA was directed to compile a list of sites consideredhazardous to public health. This list is termed the NationalPriorities List (NPL). The 1986 Superfund Amendments andReauthorization Act (SARA) directed ATSDR to perform a publichealth assessment for each NPL site. In 1990, federal facilitieswere included on the NPL.

Public health assessments (PHAs) are conducted by scientists fromATSDR (or from states with which ATSDR has cooperativeagreements). The purpose of a PHA is to determine whether peoplehave been (in the past) or are being exposed to (in contact with)hazardous substances and if so, whether that exposure is harmfuland should be stopped or reduced. If exposures have occurredATSDR uses the PHA to evaluate what actions are required toassist those who have been harmed.

In conducting the PHA, three types of information are used. Amajor source of information is the extensive environmental datacollected for EPA. This information is examined to determinewhether people in the community might be exposed to hazardousmaterials from the NPL facility. If people are being exposed tothese chemicals, ATSDR will determine whether the exposure is atlevels which might cause harm. A second source of informationused in the PHA is community health concerns. ATSDR will collecthealth concerns of community members and determine whether healthproblems could be related to exposure to chemicals released fromthe NPL facility. If ATSDR finds that harmful exposures haveoccurred, health outcome data (information from local hospitalsand other medical organizations) can be used to indicate thatillnesses are occurring which could be linked to hazardouschemicals released from the NPL facility.

The PHA presents conclusions about whether exposures areoccurring, and whether a health threat is presented. In somecases, it is possible to determine whether exposures occurred inthe past. If it is found that a threat exists, recommendationsare made to stop or reduce the threat to public health. ATSDR isan advisory agency. Its recommendations identify actions whichEPA, the facility or local agencies can undertake. If exposuresare occurring at levels which could pose a threat to publichealth, ATSDR can undertake health education activities orcertain additional followup studies. ATSDR can also identifytypes of information which might be needed to make public healthdecisions, if such information is lacking.

Exposure Evaluation Process

In order to evaluate the effect on public health of contaminantsat NPL sites, the public health assessment focuses on examiningwhether people have been exposed to (in contact with) thecontaminants. To this end, the two most important tasks in thepublic health assessment are:

  1. determining whether people have been exposed to hazardousmaterials from the NPL facility, and,

  2. if exposure is possible or has occurred, determiningwhether the exposure is at a level that could be a threat topublic health.

In this PHA we will examine:

  • whether contamination exists in the environment,
  • whether contamination is in places where people in the surrounding community might come in contact with the contaminants, and
  • if there is exposure, whether there is enough contamination to affect the health of people in the community.

To make the above decisions, each of the possible environmental pathways will be examined. The environmental pathway "media" that this PHA will examine are:

  • the "food chain", such as waterfowl at Eagle River Flats);
  • soil;
  • water, including well water and surface water (creeks, ponds), and sediment; and
  • air.

Another important factor is the way that people might contact the contaminant. By this we mean whether the chemical is:

  • inhaled;
  • ingested (eaten or drunk); or
  • absorbed through the skin.

Not all chemicals are a hazard for each of these methods ofcontact. For example, most metals are not harmful, particularlyin very low amounts, if the only contact is by way of the skin.

Figure One portrays the exposure evaluation process study we willmake in this PHA.

BACKGROUND

Site Description

Fort Richardson, adjacent to Anchorage, Alaska, was establishedin 1940 (See Figure Two). The base encompasses an area of about62,000 acres. The original purpose of the base was to serve asthe command location for the Alaska Defense Forces to protectAlaska from foreign attack (2). In 1941, the ADF wasredesignated the Alaskan Defense Command and was a staging andsupply area during World War II. In 1950, Fort Richardson wasdivided between the Army and Air Force. The northern portion ofthe base was released to the Air Force to be redesignatedElmendorf Air Force Base. In 1988, Army forces in Alaska werereorganized as the 6th Infantry Division (Light) and assigned toU.S. Army Pacific Command (USARPAC) with half of the divisionstationed at Fort Richardson. The Division was inactivated in1994 and forces were reorganized as the 1st Brigade, 6th InfantryDivision (Light) under the command and control of U.S. ArmyAlaska headquartered at Fort Richardson (2).

Fort Richardson began investigating the management of hazardouswaste in 1988. In 1988, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency(EPA) placed Fort Richardson on the hazardous waste compliancedocket. In 1991, the Army entered into a Resource Conservationand Recovery Act (RCRA) Federal Facilities Compliance Agreementwith EPA. A two-party agreement with the state of Alaska wassigned in 1993. The facility was proposed for listing in June1993, and listed on the NPL in June 1994. Most hazardous wasteon Fort Richardson is generated by maintenance operations inmotor pools, aircraft hangers, installation industrialoperations, or at sites where lead or asbestos were used in basestructures (2).

For remedial activity purposes, Fort Richardson has delineatedfour Operable Units (OUs), These OUs consist of 19 source areas,including landfills, disposal areas or spill sites, fire fightingtraining areas, tank storage areas and Eagle River Flats . (SeeFigure Three.) Table One lists the sources and Operable Units.

The primary environmental contaminants at Fort Richardson arewhite phosphorous from artillery rounds, asbestos, and volatileorganic compounds (VOCs, usually solvents and cleaners),polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs), fuel products, polycyclicaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs, commonly used in wood preservativesand also given off in automobile or truck exhaust or during burning activities), and metals (2).


Figure One – Exposure Evaluation Process
ATSDR Exposure Evaluation Process

WHAT ARE THE CONTAMINANTS AT FORT RICHARDSON?

WHICH ENVIRONMENTAL MEDIA ARE CONTAMINATED?
(AIR, WATER, SEDIMENT, SOIL, FOOD)
AND
HOW MUCH CONTAMINATION IS PRESENT IN EACH?

HOW DO THE CONTAMINANTS TRAVEL TO WHERE PEOPLE CAN BE IN CONTACT WITH THEM?

HOW COULD PEOPLE BE EXPOSED?
(BREATHE [INHALE], EAT [INGEST], OR
TOUCH [DERMAL CONTACT])

ARE PEOPLE EXPOSED (OR WERE THEY EXPOSED IN THE PAST)?

IF EXPOSURE IS OCCURRING, OR OCCURRED IN THE PAST
WAS/IS THERE CONTAMINATION IN AMOUNTS THAT WOULD AFFECT HEALTH?


Figure Two – Site Location Map



Figure Three – Operable Units and Source Areas


Table 1.

Sources and Operable Units at Fort Richardson
Site #OUBuilding/LocationSite FunctionPotential Contaminants
W020A986POL Laboratory DrywellPOL, solvents, acids, alcohol, variouslaboratory reagents
W010A67630Roosevelt Road Transmitter SiteLeachfieldPCBs in transformer oils
W040A Former Landfill #9 (Ruff Road)Ruff Road Former Fire TrainingAreaCOnstruction rubble, fuel, solvents
N087BUC602992Poleline Road Disposal Areasolvents, smoke canisters, chemicalwarfare training material
W006CEagle River FlatsEagle River Flats Impact Areamunitions residue, white phosphorous,unexploded ordnance
W025CVicinity of ERFOpen Burn/Open Demolition Areamunitions residue, ordnance, ash
W009D700Former Drum/PCB Storage AreaPCBs, waste paint, HCl, methyl ethylketone, mineral spirits
R053D704Former Roads and Grounds DrumStorage & Waste AccumulationAreaPOL, waste paint, fuel, solvent,asbestos
W016D726Former Laundry and DrycleaningUSTsPerchloroethylene
R059D796DOL Maintenance Area, FormerBattery Acid Disposal SiteNeutralized battery acid, heavy metals
R060D955Used Oil Transfer AreaUsed oil/fuel
W023D35752PCB Site/UST (Antenna Bldg)PCBs, POL
W002D45590Motor PoolWaste Oil, lubricants, antifreeze,acid, solvents
W028DFRA RDsDust PalliativeWaste Oil, solvents
N090DUC538948Circle Road Drum SitePOL
W015DFRA LandfillLandfill Former Fire TrainingAreaOil, solvents, hydraulic fluids, fuels
R072DFRA LandfillGrease Pit #1POL, oil/water separator sediment,fuel tank water, ethyl glycol
R073DFRA LandfillGrease Pit #2POL, oil/water separator sediment,fuel tank water, ethyl glycol
R075DFRAStorm Drainage Outfall to ShipCreekOil, fuel, solvents

NOTE: At least four source areas from OU D will undergo a Remedial Investigation while the others willpossibly require either "No Further Action" or action under a non-CERCLA program (9).

Contaminated environmental media include onsite soil, surface water andassociated sediment, and groundwater. There are no verified completed humanexposure pathways. Although public access to the facility is not prohibited,the facility is not readily accessible around much of its perimeter. Outlyingsource areas are located in remote and inaccessible areas. Onsite OUs arefenced, paved-over or otherwise secured.

Demographics

Fort Richardson is located within the municipality of Anchorage. Thepopulation of Anchorage is about 250,000, with a total of about 82,000households (1). The community of Eagle River (population about 25,000) lies tothe east of Fort Richardson. The post cantonment area serves about 2,200military personnel and 3,200 family members. An additional 1,500 civilianpersonnel are employed onsite (2).

Land Use and Natural Resources

As stated above, Fort Richardson is located within the municipality ofAnchorage in south-central Alaska. The Anchorage area is a roughly triangularlowland, lying between Turnagain Arm and Knik Arm (See Figure Two). Immediately to the east, the Chugach Mountains rise abruptly from this lowlandto an elevation of about 5,300 feet (3).

The base is bounded to the west by Anchorage and Elmendorf Air Base, by EagleRiver and Knik Arm to the north. To the east and south the base is bounded bythe undeveloped and mountainous Chugach State Park (See Figure Two).

Ship Creek, the primary water source for the municipality of Anchorage andsurrounding area, runs through Fort Richardson, flowing east to west. Thewater bodies and wilderness areas, where they are accessible, are used forrecreational purposes.

Fort Richardson and its surroundings are an ecologically diverse area, rangingfrom marine environments, marshes and wetlands, to forest, alpine and glacialzones. The wildlife inhabiting the areas is equally diverse and abundant,ranging from marine mammals, salmon and other game fish, numerous waterfowl,raptors and nongame birds, to small mammals such as mink, fox, beaver andnumerous small rodents, and large mammals such as bear, moose, Dall sheep andwolves. It is not the purpose of, nor is it possible in this synopsis toadequately detail the range of ecosystems and wildlife of the area.


Next Section          Table of Contents

  
 
USA.gov: The U.S. Government's Official Web PortalDepartment of Health and Human Services
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, 4770 Buford Hwy NE, Atlanta, GA 30341
Contact CDC: 800-232-4636 / TTY: 888-232-6348

A-Z Index

  1. A
  2. B
  3. C
  4. D
  5. E
  6. F
  7. G
  8. H
  9. I
  10. J
  11. K
  12. L
  13. M
  14. N
  15. O
  16. P
  17. Q
  18. R
  19. S
  20. T
  21. U
  22. V
  23. W
  24. X
  25. Y
  26. Z
  27. #