Superfund Information Systems: Site Profile

Superfund Site:

PEASE AIR FORCE BASE
PORTSMOUTH/NEWINGTON, NH

Cleanup Activities

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Background

www.epa.gov/superfund/pease

The former Pease Air Force Base is located in Portsmouth and Newington, New Hampshire. The facility officially closed in April 1991 under the Defense Base Realignment and Closure Act of 1988. Wastes generated by the U.S. Air Force when the facility was active have contaminated soil, groundwater, surface water and sediment across the former base. The Air Force has completed cleanup work, and is currently monitoring progress until cleanup goals are met.

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What Is Being Done to Clean Up the Site?

The site is being addressed through state and potentially responsible party (PRP) actions.

During early site contamination studies, the Air Force removed solvent-containing drums from the Landfill 5 area, removed contaminated soil and installed pilot groundwater extraction and treatment plants at several buildings. This early work removed and controlled immediate threats, pending further studies. Cleanup of Landfill 5 finished in 1996. Cleanup activities included consolidating buried landfill debris in contact with groundwater in dry areas of the landfill and landfill capping.

The Air Force finished contamination studies at the Fire Department Training Area-2 in 1994. Cleanup included extracting jet fuel floating on the groundwater table, vapor extraction of subsurface soils, and pumping and treating groundwater to control the migration of site contamination. Treatment of site soils and groundwater is ongoing. A system called air sparging of soils below the groundwater table has also been used to address contamination. Restrictions limit groundwater use and groundwater monitoring is ongoing.

Cleanup of Building 222 involved removing petroleum- and solvent-contaminated soils for off-base treatment and disposal. This work finished in 1995.

Cleanup of Buildings 113/119 relied on a combination of containment walls and groundwater extraction wells to prevent contaminated groundwater from migrating from Site 32. Extracted groundwater is treated at an on-site treatment plant. Restrictions limit groundwater use and groundwater monitoring is ongoing.

Cleanup of the Old Jet Engine Test Stand included air sparging of soil and groundwater below the water table and vapor extraction of soils above the water table. Soil cleanup is finished. Restrictions limit groundwater use and groundwater monitoring is ongoing.

Cleanup plans for areas known as Zone 1, 2, 3 and 4 were finalized in the summer of 1995. The remedies for all four zones include restrictions on groundwater use and long-term groundwater monitoring.

The remedy for Zone 1 included no further action for five potential areas of contamination. The remedy also called for allowing natural processes to reduce low levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in groundwater. The contamination came from Landfill 5. Capping of Landfill 5 combined with natural processes is expected to restore groundwater quality to
drinking water standards.

The remedy for Zone 2 included treatment of contaminated subsurface soil by air sparging and vapor extraction to treat petroleum- and solvent-contaminated soils at Burn Area #1. Air sparging and soil vapor extraction soil treatment finished in 2003. Contaminant levels in the groundwater in this zone are expected to drop to drinking water standards when cleanup finishes.

The remedy for Zone 3 included excavation and off-base disposal of metals and sediments contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) from two ditches. It also involved excavation and off-base disposal of metals and PAH-contaminated soil near three buildings. VOC-contaminated groundwater is extracted and treated at two Zone 3 sites and treated at an on-base groundwater treatment plant. In 2003, the Air Force updated the Zone 3 cleanup plan to include wellhead treatment capabilities for the nearby Haven water supply well. This backup treatment system, designed to treat VOC-contaminated groundwater, will ensure Zone 3 groundwater contamination does not damage water quality at the Haven well.

The remedy for Zone 4 included excavating soils from Landfill 6 and consolidating the material into Landfill 5 before its capping, as well as restoring the Landfill 6 area to wetland and upland habitat.
The Air Force completed studies of Zone 5 in the fall of 1994 and determined that no further actions were necessary.

Cleanup of four surface water drainage-ways included excavation and off-base disposal of sediments contaminated with PAHs, metals and pesticides in McIntyre Brook and Paul’s Brook. No more work was necessary at Flagstone Brook and Lower Newfields Ditch.

Preliminary field investigations at a former communications building identified soil and groundwater contaminated by VOCs. As part of preliminary investigations in 1997, part of the building was demolished. Contaminated soil under the building's former footprint was excavated and disposed of off base. In 2000, the Air Force built a permeable reactive barrier to treat contaminated groundwater.

Solvents containing VOCs were used at Building 234 in Site 73 and reportedly disposed of on site. An innovative technology demonstration here in August 1999 consisted of the installation of a barrier to intercept and destroy VOC-contaminated groundwater. In 2012, the Air Force further modified the cleanup plan to include the injection of a water-and-emulsified-vegetable-oil solution into groundwater to speed up the biodegradation of remaining groundwater contamination. Microorganisms were also added to the solution to accelerate groundwater cleanup.

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What Is the Current Site Status?

A Federal Facility Agreement finalized in December 1990 established the responsibilities of the Air Force, the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) and EPA for cleanup at the 4,365-acre site. The partners completed 11 Records of Decisions describing site cleanup plans between 1993 and 1997. All work has since finished. Operation and maintenance work and long-term monitoring are ongoing until all cleanup goals have been met.

Direct contact threats on the base have been eliminated through numerous Air Force cleanup actions. Operation of soil and groundwater treatment systems for Site 8, Sites 32/36 and Site 39 along with long-term environmental monitoring of these and other identified sites are ongoing.

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Activity and Use Limitations

At this site, activity and use limitations that EPA calls institutional controls are in place. Institutional controls play an important role in site remedies because they reduce exposure to contamination by limiting land or resource use. They also guide human behavior. For instance, zoning restrictions prevent land uses – such as residential uses – that are not consistent with the level of cleanup.

For more background, see Institutional Controls.

Institutional controls are required for this site.
 
This site requires ICs because a decision document, such as a Record of Decision, has documented some level of contamination and/or remedy component at the site that would restrict use of the site. These ICs are required to help ensure the site is used in an appropriate way and that activities at the site do not damage the cleanup components. These ICs will remain in place for as long as the contamination and/or cleanup components stay on site. The matrix below is a general summary of the restrictions at this site at the date of this report. The information in this matrix is a general description of the restrictions at the site only. The site contacts should be consulted if there are questions on the ICs for this site.
 
The following IC Instruments provide media-specific use restrictions that have been implemented by EPA for protecting human health, the environment and remedial engineering on this site. Instruments are documents used by EPA or other organizations to implement the use restrictions at a site. To know about other media-specific use restrictions that are planned but not implemented at this site, please contact the Regional Office using the Site Contact listed above. Note that where multiple entries occur, it will impact more than one pathway.
 
Click here for IC Instruments implemented for this site. https://semspub.epa.gov/src/collection/01/SC31733 

ICs are generally defined as administrative and legal tools that do not involve construction or physically changing the site. Common examples of ICs include site use and excavation restrictions put in place through State and local authorities like zoning, permits and easements. ICs are normally used when waste is left onsite and when there is a limit to the activities that can safely take place at the site (i.e., the site cannot support unlimited use and unrestricted exposure) and/or when cleanup components of the remedy remains onsite (e.g., landfill caps, pumping equipment or pipelines). Effective ICs help ensure that these sites can be returned to safe and beneficial use.
 
Disclaimer: This information is being provided by EPA as an informational tool to further assist the public in determining the types of restrictions that may be in place at National Priorities List sites being addressed by EPA under the Superfund program. In addition to the areas addressed by the institutional controls identified on this web site there may be other areas on the property that require restrictions on use of the property that are not captured in this EPA database. States and other entities may have implemented laws or restrictions applicable to this site. The information provided herein does not replace a title search or meet "All Appropriate Inquiry" requirements. U.S. EPA encourages users to review the Site files to obtain information regarding remedy components, containment systems and the land use for which cleanup standards were selected for these sites. More information and links can be found in the Institutional Control instrument collection of document, above, and the EPA regional offices may also be contacted.

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