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The Burning Ground Area (BGA) is approximately 1.5 acres in areal extent within the Wompatuck State Park. The BGA was part of the former Hingham Naval Ammunition Depot Annex (3700 acres) that was conveyed to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in 1967 for the State Park. The Navy used the annex for the manufacturing, testing, and storage of munitions for the nearby Hingham Ammunition Depot and the disposal of defunct materials used in the manufacturing process (Miller 1993). The exact activities and dates of operation at the BGA were not reported in the documents reviewed by Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). This consultation only focuses on the BGA as specified by United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The BGA is located between the Wompatuck State Park Campground to the north and the Aaron River, approximately 175 yards to the south. The Mount Blue Spring is approximately 1,000 feet northeast of the BGA. Local residents use the spring as a public water supply. The BGA is currently fenced and accessible via a locked gate and dirt road. The site is wooded with the exception of two areas labeled by EPA as Burning Ground #1 and Burning Ground #2. Also, a small timber shelter is onsite.

This document is an addendum to ATSDR's original Health Consultation completed on July 3, 1997 on the BGA (Lipson 1997a and 1997b). The original Health Consultation reviewed surface soil, subsurface soil, sediment, and water samples collected in April 1997 by EPA from the BGA and areas outside and next to the BGA. This addendum addresses additional data collected by EPA in September 1997.


From a review of the additional data, ATSDR concludes that the Burning Grounds at the Wompatuck State Park present no apparent public health hazard. Sample data collected by EPA in April 1997 identified contamination in subsurface soils but the contamination does not appear to be migrating offsite at levels of concern. For the site, ATSDR recommends maintaining ground cover on the Burning Grounds to prevent erosion and maintaining the fence to prevent public access.

As part of EPA's investigation, EPA sampled the Mount Blue Spring, located 1000 feet northeast of the Burning Grounds because (1) it is regularly used as a drinking water source and (2) we do not know if a groundwater connection exists between the site and the spring.

The water samples from the spring were analyzed for explosives and semivolatile organics. The results identified the presence of two polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and two tentatively identified compounds (TICs). These PAHs are widespread in the environment and were below levels of health concern.

The identified TICs, 1,1'-sulfonylbis-4-chlorobenzene (SCB) and carbethoxyethylidine triphenylphosphorane (CT) were present at concentrations estimated to be 24 and 12 micrograms per liter (µg/L), respectively. These concentrations are unlikely to be a hazard to individuals drinking the water because of the low concentrations and relatively low frequency of consumption compared with a water supply in a home. In addition, these TICs were not found at the burning grounds. Although, we evaluated the TICs, the presence, identification, and concentration of TICs is very uncertain because of low concentrations and analytical procedures that cannot focus on an infinite set of compounds.

Besides EPA's data, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MADEP) sampled the spring in 1995 for heavy metals. Concentrations of these metals were below detection limits (method detection limits ranged from 2 to 0.2 ppb) (Dillon 1998).

Based on EPA's and MADEP's analytical information, ATSDR finds that the Burning Grounds at the Wompatuck State Park and the Mount Blue Spring present no apparent public health hazard. ATSDR recommends sharing the data collected from the spring and the Burning Grounds with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Management and Department of Environmental Protection.

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