The Naval Air Station Patuxent River in southern Maryland has continued to expand, contributing to rapid population growth in the surrounding area. There are approximately 17,500 military, civilian, contractors and nonappropriated fund personnel that work at the Naval Air Station on a normal day. But with expansion comes higher scrutiny on environmental impacts, and Patuxent River NAS has definitely made an impact.
According to the EPA Superfund website:
The 6,400-acre Patuxent River Naval Air Station (NAS) site is located in Lexington Park, St. Mary’s County, Maryland, at the confluence of the Patuxent River and the Chesapeake Bay on a peninsula known as Cedar Point. NAS operated several landfills and other historical disposal areas which release hazardous chemicals that contaminated soil, sediment, groundwater and surface water. The landfills received solid and hazardous wastes such as sewage treatment plant sludge, cesspool wastes, spent oil absorbents, paints, antifreeze, solvents, thinners, pesticides and photo lab wastes.EPA Superfund
It has been established that there are 67 hazardous sites located at Patuxent River NAS. Many sites have been declared “clean” by the DOD but are still not safe for people. According to research, 12 active sites remain for contaminated groundwater, sediment, soil and surface water. There are 55 inactive sites. These are sites where military cleanup actions are complete, according to the DOD. Note that this status does not necessarily mean the site is no longer hazardous, as many of these sites are put under long-term monitoring or other restrictions.
Chemicals of Concern
- Semi-volatile Organic Compounds (svoc)
- Methylene Chloride
- Heptachlor Epoxide
- Vinyl Chloride
- Carbon Disulfide
- Vanadium, Metal And/or Alloy
- Pcb-1260 (aroclor-1260)
- Dde (dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene)
- Pahs (polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons)
- Ddd (dichlorodiphenyldichloroethane)
- Vanadium (fume Or Dust)
- Aluminum (metal)
- Ddt (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane)
- Aluminum (fume Or Dust)
Since 1998, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in cooperation with the NAS Patuxent River, has been investigating the water resources of the Piney Point-Nanjemoy, Aquia, and more recently, the Upper Patapsco aquifers in the vicinity of the air station and Webster Outlying Field (WOLF) to understand the effects of water-use practices at NAS Patuxent River and WOLF on the water resources of the surrounding area. In addition to saltwater intrusion, the NAS Patuxent River groundwater-quality assessment was designed to evaluate the occurrence and distribution of arsenic and tungsten.Groundwater Quality and Occurrence and Distribution of Selected Constituents in the Aquia and Upper Patapsco Aquifers, Naval Air Station Patuxent River, St. Mary’s County, Maryland, July 2008
PFAS is an emerging concern for Patuxent NAS.
The fire extinguishing foam has been used on military bases across the country, including, potentially, on 18 sites at Pax River. Known as aqueous film forming foam (AFFF), it contains a substance called per- and polyfluorolalkyl (PFAS) which the Navy called an “emerging public health concern.” In addition to Pax River sites, also being investigated is the Webster Field base in St. Inigoes, MD. (Lexington Park Leader)Lexington Park Leader
These ‘forever chemicals’ were allowed to leach into the groundwater and drain into surface water, contaminating St. Inigoes Creek, the St. Mary’s River, the Patuxent River, and the Chesapeake Bay.
The state of Maryland recently announced plans to test waters and sea life for PFAS contaminants near two military installations that have been known to use aqueous film-forming foam containing the carcinogens in routine fire training exercises. PFAS chemicals are known to be devastating to human health and the environment.LA Progressive
The PFAS concentrations range from none to 1,100 parts per trillion, according to the Navy. Other outside estimates, however, place that number slightly higher.
As is the case with most bases using Aqueous Film-Forming Foams (AFFF), PFAS has been extensively used in hangars and at multiple locations on the base in fire-training exercises. Much of the contamination is associated with Site 41, an old firefighting burn pad, as well as Site 34, a drum disposal area. Site 34 is located a quarter-mile from Rt. 235 near the southwest corner of the base. The area adjacent to the base is populated with many homes served by groundwater wells.
Risks and pathways addressed by the cleanup include health risks from people ingesting or touching contaminants in soil, sediment, surface water and groundwater.
Cost So Far: $82M (Money already spent on the evaluation and cleanup of hazardous sites.)
Expected Additional Cost: $34.9M (The estimated amount of money needed for evaluation and cleanup of hazardous sites at this installation.)
Expected Completion Date: 2028 (The date by which the DOD estimates cleanup of all sites will be complete. Long term monitoring may continue after this date.)
For Current Status
Within the region: (800) 438-2474
Outside the region: (215) 814-5000
Remedial Project Manager:
Andy Sochanski S
Additional Contacts: Ms. Jenny E. Herman, Maryland Department of the Environment
- ToxicSites: Patuxent – http://www.toxicsites.us/site.php?epa_id=MD7170024536
- EPA Superfund Site: https://cumulis.epa.gov/supercpad/cursites/csitinfo.cfm?id=0300429
- ProPublica: https://projects.propublica.org/bombs/installation/MD3170024536001700
- US Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works: https://www.epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/superfund-sites-identified-by-epa-to-have-pfas-contamination
- Beryllium Use at Patuxent: https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/GAOREPORTS-GAO-01-476R/html/GAOREPORTS-GAO-01-476R.htm
- CDC/ATSDR Site Information: https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/HAC/PHA/HCPHA.asp?State=%27MD%27
- CDC/ATSDR PFAS Info: https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/pfas/index.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.atsdr.cdc.gov%2Fpfas%2Frelated_activities.html