The Joint Base Lewis-McChord Installation Restoration Program(IRP) is responsible for monitoring and remediating environmental cleanup sites at JBLM and Yakima Training Center. The IRP was established in 1980 with the objectives of protecting public health and minimizing the impact of contaminants on the natural environment. Since 1980, a total of 118 IRP sites have been identified through investigations at the former Fort Lewis and McChord Air Force Base. Only 23 of the 118 sites remain active; the remaining 97 sites have been closed. The 23 active IRP sites at JBLM include former landfills, former small arms ranges, leaking underground storage tanks, disposal pits, industrial yards, and historical petroleum or hazardous waste spill sites.
The JBLM Restoration Program is responsible for implementing the Department of Defense’s Installation Restoration Program (IRP), Military Munitions Response Program (MMRP), and Compliance Cleanup (CC) Program on JBLM and its sub-installations. The JBLM Restoration Program performs investigation and cleanup activities sites under Federal, State, and local regulations under Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) corrective action program, and State of Washington Toxic Cleanup Program.
The JBLM Restoration Program manages one site (Logistics Center) currently on the CERCLA National Priority List (NPL) as well as two other CERCLA sites that are operable units to the NPL site (Landfill 4 and Solvent Refined Coal Pilot Plant). The JBLM Restoration Program also manages 13 other non-NPL CERCLA sites at JBLM. Final remedies have been selected and implemented for 13 of the 16 CERCLA sites as of June 2006.
The JBLM Restoration Program is in the process of selecting and implementing final remedies for the hundreds of RCRA corrective action sites at JBLM and its sub-installations. Sites managed by the JBLM Restoration Program include former landfills, former small arms ranges, underground storage tanks, former hazardous waste storage sites, disposal pits, industrial yards, and spills. Common contaminants at JBLM Restoration Program sites include metals, chlorinated solvents, petroleum products, pesticides, and munitions constituents.
Landfill 2 Pump and Treat System Stripping Tower
The Logistics Center is an approximately 650-acre industrial complex comprised of warehouses, motor pools, maintenance facilities, and an equipment disposal yard. Trichloroethylene (TCE), a common degreasing solvent, was discovered in groundwater beneath the Logistics Center in 1985. The source of the TCE contamination was determined to be leaking drums in a nearby landfill (Landfill 2) located southeast of the Logistics Center. TCE has been detected in both the Vashon Aquifer and the deeper Sea Level Aquifer. Two pump and treat systems (Landfill 2 and I-5 Systems) began operating in 1995 to remove TCE from the Vashon Aquifer. A third system (SLAPT System) began operating in 2009 to remove TCE from the Sea Level Aquifer. A pump and treat system consists of a series of groundwater wells that pump groundwater to the top of a stripping tower. Groundwater cascades down through the stripping tower while air is blown through the water. TCE in the groundwater volatilizes (becomes vapor) and is released in low concentrations to the atmosphere. The clean groundwater is collected at the base of the tower and used as cooling water in Madigan Army Medical Center’s (MAMC), Regional Logistics Service Center (RLSC), and Washington National Guard (WANG) facilities cooling system before being returned to the Vashon aquifer. Groundwater beneath the Logistics Center and nearby Tillicum neighborhood is sampled and analyzed twice per year in order to track TCE concentrations. Additionally, air sampling was conducted in 2018 and 2019 at residences near the SLAPT system and confirmed that vapors emitted by the SLAPT system do not pose an inhalation hazard.
American Lake Garden Tract
American Lake Garden Tract
This area is now primarily occupied by a golf course. Groundwater monitoring occurs on a quarterly basis.
American Lake Garden Tract (ALGT) is a collection of small solid waste landfills located on McChord Airfield that were operated from the 1940s to the 1970s. In 1986, the Vashon Aquifer was found to have TCE contamination as a result of historical landfill waste. In 1994, a pump and treat system began operating to treat TCE contamination in the Vashon aquifer. Three extraction wells were installed to target TCE associated with Landfill 5, which was determined to be the primary source of contamination. The pump and treat system at the ALGT pumped contaminated groundwater through two vessels filled with granular activated carbon in order to remove TCE. The treated water then discharges to the ground to infiltrate back into the soil. In August 2016, the pump and treat system was turned off. Between 1994 and 2016, approximately 1.35 billion gallons of water were treated, resulting in the removal of an estimated 105 pounds of TCE. The system was turned off because TCE concentrations in groundwater had been reduced significantly; as a result, the pump and treat system was removing a nominal amount of TCE annually. Data indicated that TCE concentration in groundwater did not increase despite shutting off the system, so the system has remained off since 2016. Groundwater continues to be sampled and analyzed on a quarterly basis to track TCE concentrations
Spill Site 34 North
The SS-34N source area is a vacant forested area with monitoring wells installed for quarterly sampling of TCE.
Spill Site 34 North (SS-34N) is a 3-acre site located on the northwest boundary of JBLM-McChord Field. TCE contamination in the Vashon Aquifer was first detected in 1993, but a discrete source of TCE contamination was not identified. TCE contamination is thought to be a result of multiple small spills. TCE contamination extends off-Base to the nearby Springbrook neighborhood; however, all residents are connected to the local drinking water utility and do not use groundwater as a source of drinking water. Beginning in 2004, sodium or potassium permanganate was periodically injected into groundwater at SS-34N to remove TCE. Permanganate has been injected into 24 wells seven times since 2004, with the most recent injection occurring in 2017. Sodium and potassium permanganate are chemical oxidizers that promote the breakdown of TCE in groundwater. While permanganate injections have significantly reduced TCE concentrations in some areas of the site, TCE concentrations in other areas have not seen the same reduction.
B Range circa 1940
B Range is an approximately 2,208-acre site encompassing all of Lewis North (former North Fort Lewis), excluding the land within the operational range area. The site was discovered as a munitions response site (MSR) in 2006; 37-millimeter projectiles, machine guns, and light mortars may have been used at the former range. Contaminants of concern at the site are munitions constituents (MC) and munitions and explosives of concern (MEC) in the soil. During construction activities and additional site investigation conducted on Lewis North, additional MEC items were encountered. In 2010 and 2011, a geophysical investigation was conducted. Groundpenetrating radar was used to discover if munitions were still present on Lewis North. The results of the study determined the probability of encountering MC/MEC was low. Currently, institutional controls are implemented to limit activities conducted on the site and prevent exposure to MC/MEC.
Bullet casings found during removal of lead-impacted soil at Miller Hill
Miller Hill is a former small arms range complex that was used from approximately 1917 until the 1960s. At each former range, small arms were fired at targets placed in front of the undisturbed hillside, which served as a backstop. As a result, areas of the site have elevated concentrations of lead in soil. The impacted south facing hillside is approximately 0.5 miles long. In 2004, a fence with warning signs was erected around the perimeter of the areas on Miller Hill impacted by lead to limit potential contact with contaminated soil. In 2008, soil exceeding cleanup levels in residential yards at the Hillside House area (located west of the Miller Hill) was removed. Additional soil removal occurred in 2012; contaminated soil in flat, accessible areas of Miller Hill were excavated and hauled to active ranges for use as target backstops. Impacted soils in steep, forested areas on Miller Hill was left in place. A fence was erected around these areas and existing trails through the area were closed to further reduce the risk of unintentional exposure to lead in soil.
America’s Credit Union
JBLM North America’s Credit Union site was a former fueling station, demolished in 2002. Six underground storage tanks and 1,138 cubic yards of petroleum contaminated soil were removed. The site was desirable location for a Credit Union due to redevelopment of JBLM North, including new barracks and a mini-mall next door. America’s Credit Union assumed most of the costs for construction of a remediation system.
The remedial system consists of a soil vapor extraction (SVE) system supplemented by an air sparge (AS) system. A vapor barrier underlies the building slab to minimize the possibility of intrusion of VOCs from groundwater to the Credit Union building. The SVE blower maintains a negative pressure under the vapor barrier and beyond the building into the parking lot. The combination vapor barrier and SVE comprise the sub-slab depressurization (SSD) system. The AS system consists of a compressor supplying two air sparge wells installed to strip VOCs from groundwater. The stripped VOCs are extracted by the SVE blower. Monitoring is performed at several groundwater monitoring wells, eleven soil vapor probes, five sub-slab ports and SVE exhaust. The Credit Union building and AS/SVE system were constructed in 2010. Daily operation of the AS compressor was started in 2014. Significant decreases in petroleum concentrations in groundwater and soil vapor have been observed since implementation of daily pulsed air sparging in late 2014.
Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA)
The Army is assessing chemicals of concern such as perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), under the process established by the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) of 1980. PFOS and PFOA are two manmade chemicals found in many consumer and industrial products. JBLM conducted CERCLA Preliminary Assessment (PA)/Site Inspection (SI) of PFOS/PFOA to identify release areas that are impacting drinking water production wells. The following release areas have been identified: • 11 fire training areas • 25 PFAS containing material storage areas • 4 firefighting equipment testing areas Groundwater was collected and tested from 80 monitoring wells and 10 surface waters. McChord Air Field and Gray Army Air Field were identified as two general areas of PFOS/PFOA releases. Remedial investigation is warranted to fully assess nature and extent of contamination, health risk, and means of mitigation.