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The Naval Air Development Center site in Warminster Township and Ivyland Borough, Bucks County, PA, covers 840 acres and was renamed Naval Air Warfare Center (NAWC) in 1993. Commissioned in 1944, NAWC's main function was the research, development and testing of Naval aircraft systems. Wastes were generated during aircraft maintenance and repair, pest control, firefighting training, machine and plating shop operations, spray painting, and various materials research and testing activities in laboratories. These wastes include paints, solvents, sludges from industrial wastewater treatment, and waste oils. NAWC was placed on the Superfund program's National Priorities List in October 1989 due to the threat posed by eight disposal areas to groundwater quality. Pursuant to the Base Realignment and Closure Act (BRAC), NAWC ceased operations in September 1996. Most of the property has been transferred to the private sector.


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What Has Been Done to Clean Up the Site?

This site is being addressed through federal action. All remedial construction at the site is complete - all remedies for contaminated soil are in place, and the remedies for contaminated groundwater are operating properly and successfully.

In response to trichloroethylene (TCE) and tetrachloroethylene (PCE) contamination detected in off-base private wells, in 1993, the Navy installed water treatment systems in over 40 homes and subsequently connected over 20 homes to public water systems. Since sampling results suggested that the contamination was due to both Naval Air Warfare Center (NAWC) and an unknown off-base source, EPA connected an additional 40 residences to a public water system in 1994. In 1995, the Navy connected an additional a commercial facility to public water.

Area C
In 1996, the construction of an on-base groundwater treatment system was completed and the pumping and treatment of PCE-contaminated groundwater at Area C was initiated.

Site 4
A removal action at Site 4 was conducted to excavate and remove waste from a series eight disposal trenches in 1996. The primary contaminant in the waste was polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

Site 6 & 7
In 1997, a removal action was conducted at Sites 6 and 7, a series of disposal trenches and pits. Contaminants in soil and waste excavated and removed from Sites 6 and 7 included TCE, PCE, and PCBs.

Site 1 & 2
In 1998, soil contaminated with cadmium, lead and other heavy metals was excavated and removed as part of a removal action at Sites 1 and 2.

Area A & D
The construction of groundwater extraction wells in Areas A and D at NAWC was initiated in late 1998 and early 1999, respectively. Pumping and treatment of contaminated groundwater in Area A was initiated in Summer 1999. The primary contaminants at Area A are TCE, PCE and carbon tetrachloride and PCE; at Area D, the contaminant is TCE. 

Site 8
In 1999, soil contaminated with lead was removed from Site 8.

In 2012, in preparation for the third five-year review, the Navy sampled groundwater for emerging contaminants known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), mainly perfluoroctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS). Results showed levels in groundwater at the former Navy property exceeded EPA's provisionary health advisory levels (HALs) for drinking water. HALs serve as informal technical guidance designed to assist federal, state and local officials in evaluating threats to local water supplies and are not federally enforceable standards.  

In 2013, EPA under the Safe Drinking Water Act required many public water systems, including the Warminster Township Municipal Authority, to sample for a group of 28 unregulated contaminants, including PFOS and PFOA. Based on the results, two public drinking water production wells impacted by PFOS and PFOA were taken off-line in June 2014. 

In May 2016, the EPA established a lifetime HAL for PFOS and PFOA at 70 parts per trillion. When both PFOS and PFOA are found in drinking water, the combined concentrations of PFOS and PFOA should be compared with the 70 parts per trillion HAL. The lifetime HAL for PFOS and PFOA is a guide for public drinking water systems; it is not a drinking water standard. As EPA continues to study the health effects of PFAS; the lifetime HAL was set to protect the most sensitive populations (pregnant women and nursing infants) and therefore is protective of all populations for a lifetime of exposure. For more information, visit: PFAS.

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What Is the Current Site Status?

The Navy continues to address the per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), mainly perfluoroctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), found at the NAWC site. The Navy, with input from EPA and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, is currently conducting a remedial investigation to define the nature and extent of the PFAS contamination and identify possibly sources. The Navy continues to sample and monitor previously tested private drinking water wells. Sample results to date indicate that some private drinking water wells have been impacted by PFOS and PFOA above EPA’s health advisory level. Those homes are being provided an alternate water supply until an appropriate solution can be implemented.

The Navy completed its third five-year review in 2016. These reviews ensure that the remedies put in place protect human health and the environment, and function as intended by site decision document. The Navy will complete additional vapor intrusion sampling to insure that all remedies in place are protective of human health and the environment. In addition, the Navy is developing a work plan for an optimization study to determine if in-situ treatment would accelerate groundwater remediation.

For detailed information on the current cleanup status, see the Navy’s NAWC website.  

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