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Site Summary



As part of the public health assessment process, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) conducted a site visit of the McGuire Air Force Base (McGuire AFB) Wrightstown, New Jersey, from November 29 through December 2, 1999. The purpose of the visit was to tour the site, meet with site representatives, and to gather the necessary information to prepare a public health assessment (Appendix A). ATSDR is mandated by Congress to assess the public health impacts of each site listed on the National Priorities List (NPL). Through the public health assessment process, ATSDR assesses site conditions from a public health perspective to determine whether potential exposure to site-related contaminants exist for the groundwater/drinking water, surface water, soil, biota, or air exposure pathways.

Based on our visit and a preliminary review of the data, ATSDR did find not any health threats at the McGuire AFB requiring immediate attention. ATSDR did note two potential exposure pathways or issues that require further study. ATSDR prepared this Health Consultation (Site Summary) to provide McGuire AFB with a brief summary of pathways and issues identified for evaluation. These pathways/issues include:

  • Potential off-base exposure to leachate of unknown composition near LF-03 (Landfill 2), north of McGuire AFB boundary.

  • Potential exposure to contaminants in surface water.

ATSDR presented these issues to the U.S. Air Force at an exit briefing on December 2, 1999 (See Appendix B for attendees). At the meeting, McGuire AFB agreed to collect leachate samples and consider precautions to prevent contact with the LF-03 leachate. Subsequent sampling data provided by McGuire AFB is summarized and included in this report.


Site Description

McGuire AFB is located on approximately 3,700 acre in the Borough of Wrightstown, Burlington County, New Jersey, approximately 18 miles southeast of Trenton, New Jersey, and 30 miles east of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (see Figure 1). (Parts of the McGuire AFB also fall within New Hanover Township.) Primary on site features include: an air field situated in the central/southwest portion of the base consisting of active and inactive runs, taxiways, and parking aprons; industrial areas in the central-east portion of the base used for maintenance, storage, and supply functions; temporary and permanent housing along the perimeter of the base; and miscellaneous administrative areas throughout the base.

The base is bordered to the north by Wrightstown and to the east, south, and west by U.S. Army Fort Dix Military Reservation, which is used for U.S. Army training (see Figure 2). Other nearby communities include the townships of New Hanover, Pemberton, and Plumsted, and the community of Cookstown. Most of these areas are rural, but residential and commercial development is particularly notable in Borough of Wrightstown and a part of Pemberton Township known as Browns Mill. Four off-base areas also fall under the jurisdiction of McGuire AFB: The McGuire Middle Marker, the Boeing Michigan Aeronautical Research Center (BOMARC) Missile Facility; the Burlington petroleum, oil, and lubricants (POL) off-loading facility, and the McGuire AFB approach lights.

McGuire AFB is also located within the Pinelands National Reserve, an area subject to oversight by the New Jersey Pinelands Commission to protect its important natural and ecological resources. The base is drained by overland flow to a series of on-site streams, including, the North Run, the South Run, Bowkers Run, Jack's Run, and Larkin's Run. The North Run flows east along the northern boundary of the base and South Run flows east through the southeastern portion of the base. Both the North Run and South Run eventually drain into Crosswicks Creek east of McGuire AFB, which eventually drains into the Delaware River. Small areas of the base also drain into Jack's Run and Larkin's Run, which are also tributaries of the Delaware River.

Operational History

In 1937, a single dirt runway and several associated buildings were constructed on a portion of Fort Dix and adjacent farmland. The airfield, call Rudd Field, served as an adjunct to Fort Dix and was operated by the U.S. Army Air Corps. During the early years of World War II, extensive improvement were made to meet wartime training needs, including paving and expanding landing strips. In 1948, the airfield and associated facilities were transferred to the U.S. Air Force. The installation was designated McGuire AFB.

A variety of commands oversaw the base from 1945 through 1954. In 1954, it was assigned for use by Air Force airlift-oriented operations and several tenant organizations, including the New Jersey Air National Guard. At that time, the command operating the facility was known as the Military Air Transport Service. It was renamed the Miliary Airlift Command in 1966 and then renamed the Air Mobility Command in 1992. McGuire AFB has become the Air Mobility Command's East Coast mobility base, with the capability of providing quick, large-scale airlifts to place military forces into combat situations. In September 1994, the 305th Air Mobility Wing assumed operation of the base.

Site-related contamination, including petroleum products, solvents, and constituents of protective coatings, resulted from aircraft fueling and maintenance activities, fuel and weapons storage maintenance, and other activities supporting McGuire AFB's mission over the years. Aircraft fueling and maintenance have occurred primarily in a broad area in and near a series of industrial facilities bordering the east end of the runway area, as well as in the 3300-series buildings in the northwest corner of the base. Historically, bulk fuel storage has been located just to the east of the industrial area at a bermed tank farm with eight aboveground storage tanks containing aircraft fuel or heating oil.

Remedial and Regulatory History

In 1982, the installation restoration program (IRP) began investigating sites at McGuire AFB where hazardous materials might have been released to the environment. During the 1980s, preliminary investigations and site assessments were conducted at 17 sites identified at that time. These sites include:

  • Six landfills (LF-02, LF-03, LF-04, LF-19, LF-20, and LF-23), where general base refuse, coal ash, drums of waste oil, and/or other miscellaneous chemicals were discarded;

  • Three fire protection areas (FT-08, FT-11, and FT-13), where fire training practices often used waste oils and a variety of fuels;

  • Two storage areas, the Bulk Fuel Storage Area (ST-09) and the Defense Reutilization and Marketing Office (DMRO) Storage Facility (ST-07), where petroleum products, out-of-service transformers, or other hazardous materials were stored;

  • Two spill sites, the PCB spill site (SS-18) and the Aircraft Apron fuel leak (ST-22), where hazardous material or fuel were released;

  • A sludge disposal area, (WP-21), where the base's wastewater treatment plant sludge was disposed of; and

  • Miscellaneous areas, including the pesticide wash area (OT-06), where pesticide application equipment were rinsed; a civil engineering compound (OT-10), where waste solvents may have been stored; and a nondestructive inspection (NDI) shop drain field (OT-14), where waste containing emulsifiers, developers, and other chemicals were received.

Based on preliminary investigations, no further actions were proposed for 8 of the 17 sites: OT-06, OT-10, SS-18, LF-19, LF-20, WP-21, FT-08, and LF-23. Further investigations are underway at sites requiring additional study, including: remedial investigations at OT-06, and ST-22(1); feasibility studies at LF-02, LF-03, LF-04, ST-07, ST-09, FT-11, FT-13 and OT-14; and long term groundwater monitoring at sites LF-19, LF-20, and LF-23.

In addition to ongoing investigations, McGuire AFB conducted interim removal actions (IRAs) to reduce and control the spread of contamination. IRAs completed to date included removal of contaminated soil from ST-07, SS-18, and OT-06. Furthermore, McGuire AFB completed a remedial design for site ST-09 in 1992, initiated a bioventing pilot test for the site the same year, and implemented pilot-scale studies of free product recovery systems. In 1992, McGuire AFB inventoried all transformers on base, which indicated that 200 on-base transformers contained polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) above the regulatory limit of 50 parts per million. Subsequent to the inventory, McGuire AFB replaced all PCB-containing transformers by 1998.

McGuire AFB also investigated conditions at the off-base BOMARC Missile Facility, the Middle Marker site, and the Burlington POL off-loading facility because of concerns about potential historical releases. The investigations found no evidence of discharges or past releases for the Middle Marker site and the Burlington POL off-loading facility that required further actions. McGuire AFB will further evaluate the BOMARC Missile Facility site under the IRP. ATSDR will prepare a separate public health assessment for the BOMARC Missile Facility site.

On October 22, 1999, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) placed McGuire AFB on the NPL primarily for contamination associated with several of its landfills used for base refuse.


As a result of our November/December 1999 site visit, meetings, and a preliminary review of the data currently available, ATSDR identified the following issues as requiring further evaluation/action.

  • Potential off-base exposure to leachate near landfills.

During the site visit, ATSDR and base personnel found what appeared to be seeps (pools) of reddish-brown leachate forming below a storm water drain located downgradient of the LF-03 (Landfill 2) and the DMRO Storage Facility (ST-07). This leachate spring is along the northern boundary of the base and beyond the base's perimeter fence. McGuire AFB used the landfill from 1950-1956 for general base refuse and has used the DMRO Storage Facility since 1963 for storage of fuels. Sampling data summarizing the composition of the leachate were not available during our visit.

The seep is located adjacent to a branch of the North Run. The North Run is a shallow, narrow stream that flows east along the northern limits of the base property. On the other side of the North Run from the seep are both a former and an active trailer park. Another larger base housing area is located about a half mile away. Currently, there are no controls to prevent or limit access to the seep. Also, signs warning of possible hazards are not posted. ATSDR was concerned that the storm water drain may serve as a conduit for higher than expected concentrations of contaminants entering the North Run from either the landfill or the DMRO yard. People living nearby could come in contact with this material.

At the exit meeting on December 2, 1999, ATSDR shared its concern with base personnel. In response, McGuire AFB agreed to sample the leachate and also offered to assess measures aimed at preventing human contact with the leachate (e.g, installing a fence around the area where the leachate pools).

Since the site visit, ATSDR has received and reviewed results for leachate samples taken from pools near and downgradient of the landfill in 1991, 1992, and 1996. Low levels of volatile organic compounds, semivolatile organic compounds and pesticides were present in these leachate samples (See Appendix C). McGuire AFB personnel have recently confirmed these samples represent the same location noted during the site visit. Additional samples were collected by McGuire AFB personnel in March 2000. The low levels of organics found in this leachate do not indicate an immediate health hazard to an individual visiting the area briefly and infrequently.

  • Potential exposure to contaminants in surface water.

Several streams flow through McGuire AFB. The northern section of the base drains to North Run, and central portion drains to South Run. North and South Runs eventually drain into Crosswicks Creek. Certain areas in the southeast portion of the base drain to Bowker's Run, Jack's Run, and Larkin's Run, are tributaries of Rancocas Creek. Both Crosswicks Creek and Rancocas Creek eventually flow to the Delaware River. VOCs and metals from landfills (LF-03, LF-04, and possibly LF-20) and contaminants associated with oil/fuel components stored at ST-09 are believed to be entering the North Run and a tributary of the South Run, respectively. Because these streams eventually flow to off-base surface-water bodies, contaminants entering the streams may be carried to areas where people/recreational users could come in contact with them. In most cases, contaminant concentrations in the surface water are expected to decrease with dilution before reaching off-site areas accessible by the public. ATSDR will obtain sampling results from the Air Force and review the data along with information on use patterns of local surface water to determine whether a public health hazard exists.


The public health assessment process includes gathering information about health concerns voiced by members of the community. To begin this process, ATSDR interviewed base public affairs personnel who address community questions and concerns about McGuire AFB and reviewed the McGuire AFB Community Relations Plan (CRP). The base CRP includes a survey of environmental concerns voiced by members of the base community. ATSDR also met with other base personnel who may interact with community or may be aware of community concerns including: the support group commander, the judge advocate generals office, the public health officer, the ground safety officer, the manager of the base installation restoration program and the base bioenvironmental engineer.

Community health concerns about the base wastewater treatment plant, the aircraft noise, and the water quality have arisen sporadically. Because of recent publicized cleanup activities at the BOMARC Missile Facility site, much of the community concern focuses on health and safety hazards stemming from the BOMARC missile accident in the 1960s. As mentioned, ATSDR will evaluate the BOMARC Missile Facility site in a separate public health assessment where those concerns will be addressed.

ATSDR will continue to collect additional community health concerns relating to McGuire AFB through the public health assessment process. Community members can direct their health concerns to:

Program Evaluation and Records Information Services Branch
ATSDR, Division of Health Assessment and Consultation
Attention: McGuire Air Force Base/BOMARC
1600 Clifton Road, NE (E-56)
Atlanta, Georgia 30333

Community members can also telephone Tom Mignone, ATSDR's regional representative in New York City, New York, at 212-637-4306.


  • The leachate below Landfill 2 (LF-03) does not pose an acute health hazard.


Through the public health assessment process, ATSDR not only identifies potential public health hazards, but offers recommendations designed either to assist in our evaluation of hazards or to prevent adverse health effects resulting from potential exposure to harmful chemicals in the environment. ATSDR recommendations are as follows:

  • McGuire AFB should periodically assess the area below the LF-03 (Landfill 2) for changes in the existing leachate springs and to identify any new leachate springs. Additionally, the base should consider posting the landfill area to alert visitors to the potential for hazards.

  • ATSDR will address the potential exposure to contaminants discharged to the surface water in the McGuire AFB Public Health Assessment.


LCDR Danielle DeVoney, Ph.D.
Environmental Health Scientist
Federal Facilities Assessment Branch
Division of Health Assessment and Consultation

Gary Campbell, Ph.D.
Environmental Health Scientist, Section Chief
Federal Facilities Assessment Branch
Division of Health Assessment and Consultation


URS Consultants, Inc. (URS). 1998. Remedial investigation/remedial action selection report. BOMARC JP-X Discharge Pit (WP-05). McGuire Air Force Base, New Jersey. Confirmation Sampling and analysis for multiple sites. October 1998.

URS Grenier Woodward-Clyde (URSGWC). 1999. URS Grenier Woodward-Clyde. Draft Work Plan: Basewide Background Study and Ecological Assessment for McGuire Air Force Base, Wrightstown, New Jersey. September, 1999.

U.S. Air Force. 1997. Community Relations Plan: McGuire AFB, New Jersey. July 1997.

U.S. Air Force. 1998. Management Action Plan: McGuire AFB, Wrightstown, NJ. June 1998.


McGuire AFB & Bomarc Missile Site
Figure 1. McGuire AFB & Bomarc Missile Site

Site Map
Figure 2. Site Map


Service: United States Air Force
McGuire AFB

Size: 3,700 acres
Installation Status: Active
Installation Mission: To support airlifts of passengers and cargo for the Department of Defense

ATSDR Action Dates

Initial Site visit: McGuire AFB, November 29-December 2, 1999

ATSDR Site Ranking: D

ATSDR met with the following people

Col. James T. Ryburn, Commander Support Group, 305 SGPT/CC
Col. Penny Giovanetti, Commander Medical Group, 305 MDG/CC
Lt. Col. Sebastian Romano, Commander Civil Engineering Squadron, 305 CES/CC
Maj. Dan Kamieniecki, Commander Bioenvironmental Engineer Flight, 305 AMDS/SGPB
Capt. Patricia Quick, Commander, Military Public Health, 305 AMDS/SGPM
Lt. Catherine Bingham, Deputy Chief, Environmental Flight, 305 CES/CEV
Lt. Mike Nachshen, Deputy Chief, Public Affairs, 305 AMW/PA
Lt. Dary Eli, Public Affairs, 305 AMW/PA
SMSgt. Cynthia Baldwin, Superintendent, Bioenvironmental Engineer, 305 AMDS/SGPB
Alice Cesaretti, Environmental Attorney, 305 AMW/JA
John Pohl, Environmental Engineer, 305 CES/CEV
King Mak, Installation Program Manager, 305 CES/CEV
Scott Wilson, Deputy Commander, Civil Engineer Squadron, 305 CES/CD
Tom Diveley, Ground Safety Manager, 305 AMW/SEG
Capt. Brian Smith, Headquarters Staff Bioenvironmental Engineer, HQ AMC/SGPB
Steve Strausbauch, Environmental Scientist, IERA/RSRE
Cornell Long, Chemist, IERA/RSRE
Capt. Victor Carvaello, Consultant, Environmental Toxicologist, IERA/RSRE


Col. James T. Ryburn, Commander Support Group
Lt. Col. Sebastian Romano, Commander Civil Engineering Squadron
Maj. Dan Kamieniecki, Commander Bioenvironmental Engineer Flight
Lt. Catherine Bingham, Deputy Chief, Environmental Flight
Lt. Mike Nachshen, Deputy Chief, Public Affairs
SMSgt. Cynthia Baldwin, Superintendent, Bioenvironmental Engineer
Alice Cesaretti, Environmental Attorney
King Mak, Installation Program Manager
Capt. Brian Smith, Headquarters Staff Bioenvironmental Engineer
Steve Strausbauch, Environmental Scientist
Cornell Long, Chemist
Capt. Victor Carvaello, Consultant, Environmental Toxicologist


  1991a 1992a 1996a 2000b
Volatile Organics (ug/l)        
   1,1-Dichloroethane 1.0 JJ 3.0 JJ ND <5.0
   1,2-Dichloroethane 6.0 J ND 1.0 J <5.0
   1,2-Dichloroethane (total) 25 5.0 ND <5.0 (trans only)
   1,2-Dichlorobenzene ND ND ND 7.5
   1,4-Dichlorobenzene ND ND ND 9.0
   Chlorobenzene ND ND ND 9.5
   Benzene 10 4.0 JJ 4.0 J <5.0
   Trichloroethene 3.0 JJ ND 4.0 J 5.0
   Vinyl Chloride 3.0 JJ 2.0 JJ 5.0 J <5.0
Semi-Volatiles (ug/l)        
   Benzoic Acid 7.0 JJ ND 3.0 J NA
   Phenanthrene ND ND 0.5 JB <10
   Anthracene ND ND 0.2 J <20
   Di-n-butylphthalate ND ND 0.06 J <10
   Fluoranthene ND ND 0.2 JB <10
   Pyrene ND ND 0.4 J <10
   Bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate ND ND 0.3 JB <10
Pesticides (ug/l)        
   Heptachlor ND ND 0.052 J <0.1
   4,4'-DDE ND ND 0.055 J <0.1
   4,4'-DDD ND ND 0.38 <0.1
   4,4'-DDT ND ND 0.057 J <0.1

Notes: a - Data summary sent to ATSDR by 305 AMDS/SGPB on 12 January 2000 as excerpts from "FFS and Treatability Studies, SCS, VolI of five sites", November 1997 by URS Greiner, Inc. The data qualifiers are:

J - Indicates an estimated concentration
JJ - Indicates an estimated organic concentration below the SQL
B - Indicates compound detected in the field blank
ND - Indicates the compound was not detected

b - Samples collected 8 March 2000 by McGuire AFB personnel were analyzed by EPA 624, 625 and 608 methods, resulting in higher detection limits than earlier sampling rounds. The laboratory provided two notes: the sample for EPA 624 analysis was not capped with a septa vial cap, and the sample for EPA 625 analysis was at a temperature outside of EPA guidelines. No field blanks or duplicate sample analyses were provided.

1 Data collected through the remedial investigation will be used to support a no further action decision at OT-06.

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