Contamination Cleanup Continues at Milan Army Plant

Posted in: United States Water News, Water Conservation, Water Contamination, Water Crisis
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Article courtesy of David Thomas| September 21, 2015 |The Jackson Sun |Shared as Educational Material

One of the extraction wells at the Milan Army Ammunition Plant. Photo Credit: The Jackson Sun

MILAN —The 22,357 acres at the Milan Army Ammunition Plant may be sacred grounds, but remnants of wars past call for a massive cleanup that is expected to last another 60 years.

Britt Locke, the commander’s representative at the plant said ground water contamination affected the Memphis Sand Aquifer, the local public water supply. The Army worked with the City of Milan in the early 1990s to relocate the municipal drinking water well field. The Army also placed institutional controls on property adjacent to the post that prohibits groundwater use in contaminated areas. Contamination in groundwater does not pose a threat to workers on the post, nearby residences, or businesses.

Locke joined officials of the Environmental Protection Agency and representatives from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation at a public meeting – Environmental Activities held at Milan Senior Citizens Center at the Mildred G. Fields Library in Milan.

Because of the agreement, treatment and monitoring can proceed with criteria identified in advance by the Army, USEPA, and TDEC, eliminating time-consuming reviews and approvals, while reducing costs to the taxpayers. The active treatment of the groundwater is expected to continue for the next 15 years with continued monitoring thereafter at a cost of $28.5 million. This plan reduces life-cycle costs over the 60-year clean-up timeframe.

“We thought it would be a good idea to put a meeting together, and keep people informed,” Britt Locke, the commander’s representative at the plant said. “This is an update on the work completed, and where we are going.”

Locke said there are two primary goals.

“One is to keep the contamination from spreading and the other is to treat as much water as possible,” Locke said. “We’re basically treating 2,200 to 2,400 gallons of water per minute. There are 24 total wells, but they are not all used at the same time. The water is pumped out of the ground in areas where there is the most contamination.”

The primary contaminants are 2,4,6-trintrololuene (TNT) and RDX, also known as cyclonite.

Locke said the water goes to one of two water treatment plants which are on the base, which removes all the explosives then pumped back and released into the Rutherford fork of the Obion River, and the other is the Wolf Creek.

“The MLAAP remediation program is not the most complex site I have worked on as far as treating contaminants,” Bill Corrigan, the MLAAP Environmental Coordinator said. “For example, on the Milan site, explosives are the only contaminants being removed from the groundwater requiring only pH adjustment, filtering and treating with activated carbon.”

Corrigan said at other sites where he has worked have had a mixture of contaminants in the groundwater with each requiring different treatment processes.

“What makes the MLAAP site complex is the size of the near 4,500 acre groundwater plume that has to be controlled,” Corrigan said. “Associated with the remedy are two-each groundwater treatment plants, 568 monitoring wells, 24 extraction wells and seven miles of pipeline. With some of the contamination having migrated offsite, implementing lease agreements with private property owners and the city of Milan adds a requirement that would not be necessary if the contamination was only onsite.”

Carl Froede of the Environmental Protection Agency in Atlanta, said his organization is satisfied with the progress.

“The MAAP (Milan Army Ammunition Plant) was placed on the national priorities list in 1987, and the Army, TDEC and the EPA signed a cleanup agreement in 1989,” Froede said. “The EPA is very pleased with the direction the Army is going with the site.”

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