Superfund Information Systems: Site Profile

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Cleanup Activities

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The 1,200 acre site is comprised of the Former Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Willow Grove (NASJRB/WG) and the Willow Grove Air Reserve Station (WGARS), located in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. In 2005, the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Act (BRAC) directed the closure of NASJRB/WG.  In early 2011, NASJRB/WG concluded nearly 70 years of service and ceased flight operations. When the WGARS portion of the site was deactivated in 2007 as a result of BRAC 2005, the Air National Guard (ANG) became responsible for the U.S. Air Force land. Official transfer of authority for WGARS was completed in 2011 with formal renaming of the property as Horsham Air Guard Station. The installations are co-located within one perimeter and are located approximately 25 miles north of Philadelphia. Aircraft operations at the site began during the 1920s when the facility was named Pitcairn Airfield. The U.S. Navy acquired the airfield in 1942 and began jet training there in 1949. Currently, NASJRB/WG and WGARS provide materials, facilities, services, and training in direct support of all units assigned to the stations. The site was listed on the EPA's National Priorities List on September 29, 1995.

Activities that generate, store, or dispose of hazardous waste at the facilities fall into four general categories: (1) aircraft maintenance; (2) base civil engineering; (3) fuel operation and (4) personnel training. Sources of potential contamination on Navy property include, but are not necessarily limited to, the Privet Road Compound, Antenna Field Landfill, Ninth Street Landfill, the former Fire Training Area and a fuel farm.

On the Air Force property, a washrack area, a stormwater retention basin, a fuel farm, and a number of hazardous waste storage areas have been identified as potential sources of contamination.


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What Is Being Done to Clean Up the Site?

  • The site is being addressed through federal actions. The long-term remedy for soil at Site 1 Privet Road included no further remedial action following cleanup activities in 1999.
  • EPA selected the long-term interim remedy groundwater at Site 1 Privet Road in 2008 and design of land use controls is ongoing.
  • Sitewide Investigations for PFAS are ongoing.
  • The long-term remedy for Site 6 Abandoned Rifle Range No. 1, Site 7 Abandoned Rifle Range No. 2, and soil at Site 5 Fire Training Area included no further action.

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What Is the Current Site Status?

  • Site 1 groundwater is contaminated with PCE and TCE from a suspected off base source and Site 5 groundwater is contaminated with several VOCs.
  • The Bioremediation pilot study at Site 5 is installed and operating. The sodium bicarbonate is being added to raise the pH of the groundwater. Lactate will be added as the substrate (to feed the bugs). The need for bioaugmentation will be evaluated.
  • At Site 3, studies revealed historical landfill activity. There are ongoing investigations to access the nature and extent of landfill activities.
  • The Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry (ATSDR) has performed a Public Health Assessment of the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base & Air Reserve Station Willow Grove and found "No Apparent" threats to public health or to the environment. This ATSDR document is dated September 2001. ATSDR is currently conducting additional health assessments to study the impact of the ongoing PFAS activities.
  • The Pennsylvania Department of Health is piloting a program to test resident exposure (blood testing) to per- or polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in impacted areas of Bucks and Montgomery counties through a grant funded from the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials. The study will use and provide feedback on a toolkit developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and ATSDR. The study will lay the scientific groundwork for a larger, national study.

´╗┐Additional Environmental Restoration information and the administrative record can be found at: NASJRB Information.

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Emergency Response and Removal

Cleanup has also included removal actions, or short-term cleanups, to address immediate threats to human health and the environment. Actions in 1999 at Site 1 Privet Road removed contaminated soil. Removal actions at Site 5 Fire Training Area removed about 430 cubic yards of contaminated soil.

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