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Radford Army Ammunition Plant Installation Restoration Program

Fact Sheet
Investigative Activities

Cleanup Program at the Radford Army Ammunition Plant

The Radford Army Ammunition Plant (RFAAP) has a comprehensive plan to identify, investigate, and clean up contamination resulting from past production activities and the disposal of manufacturing waste at the plant. Called the Installation Action Plan (IAP), it is the key document in the management and execution of the Installation Restoration Program (IRP). The plan outlines the total multiyear integrated, coordinated approach to achieving the installation's restoration goals. The objective of the IAP is to ensure compliance with RFAAP’s Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Corrective Action Permit issued by the Environmental Protection Agency, Region III (EPA) in October 2000. For each site, the plan documents restoration requirements, the rationale for the technical approach, and corresponding financial requirements. The plan also contains information about contaminants of concern, response actions taken, and past milestones, as well as possible future response actions. The IAP is updated annually in coordination with the EPA and Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VDEQ). You can find the latest version of the IAP at the RFAAP IRP Web site.

Current Investigations

Water and soil contamination at the RFAAP are currently being investigated and identified. The extent of the contamination remains uncertain in many areas. Consequently, current research in and around RFAAP focuses on gaining a clearer understanding of the problem—the source of pollution, the natural setting (soil, geology, and groundwater characteristics), and other details that might affect cleanup decisions. This research will ultimately result in the best utilization of resources for remediation activities at RFAAP.

Soil Studies
RFAAP conducted a Facility-Wide Background Study for two areas within the plant, the Main Manufacturing Area (MMA) and the New River Unit (NRU) to characterize natural soil composition. Soil samples were collected from areas not impacted by installation activities, analyzed, and then used to construct a facilitywide surface and subsurface soil data set. This baseline data set will enable investigators to analyze and characterize soil samples collected from specific sites under investigation to determine whether contamination has occurred. (See
Environmental Sampling fact sheet.)

Geology and Groundwater Studies
The geology under the ammunition plant is very complex due to the intense structural deformation that characterizes the area. The underlying rock contains frequent faulting, complex folded and fractured bedrock, and karst areas, which are typified by abundant sinkholes, disappearing streams, exposed rock outcrops or ledges, and underground caverns. This geology has a tremendous effect on the flow of groundwater underneath the arsenal property, as the groundwater must flow through the numerous fractures, fissures, and layers of underground rock before ultimately discharging into the New River via many small springs and seeps.

Because of the complexity of the hydrogeology at RFAAP, investigations into the movement of chemical contaminants through the groundwater are ongoing. However, existing groundwater data and related information are available in the RFAAP Current Conditions Report. This report was used to develop a conceptual model of the geology and hydrogeology of the Horseshoe Area. The tasks completed to create the model include data review, mapping, and water surveys. The report also identifies critical data gaps; as a result, additional research has been proposed in Work Plan Addendum 009 to address these needs.

Future Investigation Plans

In addition to the IAP, many other plans and reports have been developed to help address RFAAP contaminated areas. For example, many of the sampling activities required during the IRP investigation phase are outlined in work plans under review by VDEQ and EPA.

Work Plan Addendum (WPA) 12 was developed to address gaps in soil, surface water, and sediment data for eight sites in the MMA and five sites at the NRU.

Work Plan Addendum (WPA) 009 provides the details for a broad groundwater sampling effort, which will study groundwater on larger, regional scales, such as the Horseshoe Area.

These work plans describe:

  • what will be sampled,

  • where will it be sampled, and

  • how much sampling/data is needed.

How Can I Learn More?

A lot of helpful information can be found on the IRP Web site. Specific questions or concerns about the IRP can be directed to the RFAAP Public Relations Officer. Contact information is located here.

Citizens interested in the IRP can also join the RFAAP Restoration Advisory Board (RAB), a forum for exchange of information and partnership among citizens, the installation, and regulatory agencies. The RAB was established in 1998 by RFAAP and local citizens. RFAAP provides information to and solicits comments/concerns from the RAB regarding site cleanup activities. RAB meetings occur quarterly. The schedule for this year's meeting can be found here.

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