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Community Involvement
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Restoration Advisory Board

Radford Army Ammunition Plant (RFAAP)
Restoration Advisory Board (RAB)
March 16, 2000

Meeting Minutes


Members: Organization:
Steve Cole Blacksburg Rotary Club
Robert Freis Floyd Press Inc.
Jim McKenna ACO/RFAAP, RAB Co-Chair
Joe Parrish Anderson & Associates
Attendees: Organization:
LTC Rodney K. Alston ACO/RFAAP
Shelley Barker ACO/RFAAP
Carolyn Jake ATK/RFAAP
Pete Rissell Army Environmental Center
Frank Swit Gannett Fleming Engineers
John Tesner U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Rob Thomson EPA Hazardous Sites
Davida Trumbo The IT Group / Kaiser
Katie Phillips WPI
Demetria Somervell WPI

Agenda Item #1. Introductory Remarks, Approve Minutes of 4 November 1999

Mr. McKenna convened the meeting at 7:10 p.m. and asked if there were any comments or questions about the 4 November 1999 RAB meeting minutes. There were none, and the minutes were approved as written.

Agenda Item #2. Project Update – Work Plan Addendum 9

Mr. McKenna provided a project update on the Work Plan Addendum 9. RFAAP prepared the Work Plan Addendum 9 to perform some work in the Horseshoe Area, south of the main plant. RFAAP sent the plan to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and received comments in February. After discussing with EPA, RFAAP has come up with a strategy to change the work plan. RFAAP will collect and evaluate existing data, and then go to EPA and propose specific changes to the work plan.

Mr. McKenna stated that RFAAP initially proposed to do a dye trace study, which is one of the tools used to better understand karst geology. RFAAP has collected some information by conducting a thermal fly over, which takes an infrared picture of the area, to determine temperature differences in the surface water and identify the location of springs. Mr. McKenna explained that dye trace studies need places where you can put dye in (e.g., sinkholes) as well as discharge points (e.g., springs) so you can see where it comes out. Because the Horseshoe Area lacks springs, it does not have the kind of geology that is conducive to a dye trace. Instead, RFAAP plans to take water level measurements in the river to get some relative information between river elevations and groundwater elevations in several monitoring wells. RFAAP will then compile and evaluate data to help determine groundwater flow in the Horseshoe Area. The tentative plan is to have a specific proposal to EPA by June.

Mr. McKenna stated that there were other factors that made it necessary to change the work plan. RFAAP had already conducted (or attempted to conduct) a dye trace in the Horseshoe Area, and it didn’t work. Dye was placed in a well and was not recovered. In order for a dye trace study to be effective, you need to know where the dye is going to come out. Therefore, you must walk around the site and find potential discharges like springs and seeps. RFAAP and EPA hydrogeologists walked around the area and did not find any springs or seeps. Therefore, conducting a dye trace study is not viable at this time. RFAAP will use other methods to determine groundwater flow in the Horseshoe Area.

Mr. Robert Freis asked whether subsurface conditions are less porous than was originally thought. Mr. McKenna replied that the water in the area is being recharged to the New River. There is no flow under the river or through/under the mountains. RFAAP doesn’t know the specific points where water is recharging to the New River (e.g., water could be coming up through the riverbed through seeps and springs). However, there are not enough known outlets to account for all the water coming out of the Horseshoe Area.

Mr. Freis asked if the subsurface conditions would inhibit or make it less likely for contamination to migrate. Mr. McKenna replied that this isn’t the case because there are two systems. There is an overburden groundwater system in which water goes down into the second lower karst system. Either way, the water is going to the New River. Water is either going from the overburden into the river or going down lower and then recharging underneath to the river through the karst system. Regardless of the tools that are used, there will be some uncertainty with groundwater flow around the area. RFAAP knows that the water is going into the New River, but a specific path is going to be difficult to determine. However, RFAAP will be able to determine enough information about groundwater flow to develop reasonable risk assessments, and if needed, to conduct appropriate cleanups.

Mr. Steve Cole asked what kind of decisions would be made differently if RFAAP had more information about groundwater flow. Mr. McKenna replied that there have been no decisions made yet regarding the groundwater. RFAAP only has conducted soil cleanups (i.e., source removals) such as the work conducted at SWMU 54, but groundwater really wasn’t a factor. In areas with soil contamination, the contaminants may percolate or leach out into the groundwater. However, when contaminated soils are removed or cleaned up, the source of contamination to the groundwater is eliminated. Mr. McKenna added that groundwater flow and soil background data are integral pieces to the baseline risk assessments. Since both of these have yet to be adequately determined, baseline risk assessments work is being put on hold. The background study effort is funded and is being procured by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District.

Mr. Rob Thomson of EPA added that there is a new theory about groundwater flow in the RFAAP area. Water within the basin or drainage area of RFAAP most likely flows towards the New River and does not flow off the base, away from the river, through karst channels.

While there is some uncertainty about how the water gets to the river, Mr. McKenna explained that they do know the water is going to the river. RFAAP has collected a lot of data but still needs more data, such as measuring water levels of river and comparing that with groundwater levels in monitoring wells and determining the depth of the river bottom. Then new wells will be installed below the river bottom to see if any contamination is seeping down.

Mr. McKenna responded to a question about AEP water releases from the Claytor Dam and its effect on the Horseshoe study. RFAAP does not have any influence over their releases as AEP releases water in response to electric power demand. Thus any study effort will monitor the river levels as it occurs from AEP dam releases as this is the reality of the situation.

Agenda Item #3. RFAAP IRP Web Site Demo

Ms. Katie Phillips of WPI provided a demonstration of the new RFAAP IRP web site ( Mr. McKenna reported that the new Installation Action Plan (March 1, 2000) is available on the web site. RFAAP has not received hard copies of the plan yet because of formatting problems. Once corrected, a hard copy will be placed in the information repository. If any RAB member wishes to have his or her own hard copy, it can be provided.

After the demo, Ms. Phillips asked if the RAB members had any questions or comments. Ms. Carolyn Jake asked about the comment form. Ms. Phillips responded that one comment has been received so far and that comments received through the web site go to Mr. McKenna and also to Ms. Phillips as the site webmaster. Mr. McKenna indicated that comments would be forwarded to the appropriate people for a response.

Ms. Jake asked if the RAB members were listed on the web site. Ms. Phillips replied that the web site does not include a separate list of all the RAB members with contact information, but RAB members’ names are included on the meeting minutes.

Ms. Jake asked about the coordination of responses and how the information is managed. She feels it is important to see how other organizations manage comments and suggested having a protocol. When responding to comments received, Ms. Jake feels there should be a unified voice for the organization representing RFAAP. RFAAP may need to get public affairs/relations involved to be responsible for coordination of responses to comments. LTC Rodney K. Alston added that a coordinated effort would be required to answer certain questions, depending on the question and how the comment is tracked (i.e., whether the comment is forwarded to other organizations). Mr. McKenna added that the web site—like the RAB—is primarily for restoration issues and that unrelated comments will be forwarded to the appropriate person for a response outside of the RAB or web site.

Ms. Phillips reported that the web site includes a disclaimer for related web site links per the U.S. Army web site guidance.

Mr. Freis asked if the web site is ready to be unveiled and suggested having a press release about the web site. Ms. Phillips replied that a draft press release has been prepared and is currently under review. Also, per U.S. Army web site guidance, the RFAAP IRP web site has been registered with the U.S. Army webmaster and the Government Information Locator Service.

Mr. Frank Swit asked if the RFAAP web site was like other IRP sites. Ms. Phillips replied that it basically was and showed an example of another IRP site. Upon discussion, it was decided that WPI would add search capabilities to the RFAAP IRP web site.

Agenda Item #4. Closing Remarks, Schedule Next Meeting

Mr. McKenna adjourned the meeting at 8:10 p.m. The next RAB meeting will be held at RFAAP on Thursday, 18 May 2000, at 7 p.m.

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