Superfund Information Systems: Site Profile

Superfund Site:


Health & Environment

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What Are the Risks at the Site?

Extensive investigations of groundwater, surface water, soil, sediment and game fish have been conducted at Picatinny Arsenal and have found widespread contamination. Exposure to these media and fish has been found to result in significant risk to human health and the environment. Groundwater sampling has detected numerous groundwater plumes scattered throughout the facility, primarily consisting ofVOCs and to a lesser extent explosives. Exposure to contaminated groundwater may include ingestion, direct contact, showering, etc. Residential receptors, the most sensitive population, are most susceptible to significant risk from exposure to groundwater. On the other hand, risk to commercial/Industrial receptors is not as significant due to fewer exposure pathways and shorter exposure duration to groundwater. Picatinny Arsenal has several on-site reservoirs, ponds, and streams. Sampling of these water bodies has found low levels of contamination, primarily VOCs, emanating from associated groundwater plumes. In addition, other contaminants are also found in surface water due to historical operations. Risk to human health from exposure to contaminated surface water may include direct contact and incidental ingestion. Since expected exposure duration length and frequency are low, resulting riskhas generally been found to be insignificant. Exposure to contaminated surface water by environmental receptors results in more significant risk. Soil sampling has indicated widespread soil contamination at Picatinny Arsenal. Exposure pathways to contaminated soil may include incidental ingestion, direct contact and inhalation of dust. Typically, soil contaminant levels are moderate to the extent that they do not pose a significant risk. However, there are areas at the facility with elevated levels of contaminants that do result in significant risk and can be source of contamination to groundwater. Risk posed to environmental receptors has been generally found to be acceptable. However, as with human health, there are areas at Picatinny Arsenal with elevated contaminant levels that do pose significant risk to environmental receptors. Sediment associated with the on-site water bodies and wetlands have been found to be contaminated by the long-term operations at Picatinny Arsenal. Exposure to contaminated sediment generally has been found to be acceptable for environmental receptors except in few cases where highly elevated levels of contaminants have been found. Game fish are found in most of Picatinny Arsenal’s water bodies. Exposure to contaminated sediment and surface water has resulted in elevated contaminant levels in fish tissue. Risk posed by ingestion of these fish is found to be significant for sensitive populations such as women of child-bearing age and also environmental receptors.

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Contaminant Information

Per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFASs) are a class of synthetic fluorinated chemicals used in industrial and consumer products, including defense-related applications. In the 1960s, the United States Navy developed aqueous film forming foams (AFFF) known to contain PFASs as fire-fighting agents in highly combustible liquid fuel fires (Class B fires). PFAS related compounds have relately been found at various Department of Defense facilities.

In early 2018, sampling of the drinking water to Picatinny detected PFAS above the EPA’s Health Advisory Limit (HAL) of 70ppt. As a result, the Army provided bottled water to all individuals at the base and installed a temporary Granulated Activated Carbon treatment system treatment while developing a a permanent system.

Concurrently, a Preliminary Assessment (PA) for PFAS was initiated in April 2018, to investigate the history of fire-fighting training areas and identify potential source areas. EPA and NJDEP have been working with the Army evaluating potential sources as well as the site investigation work plan which will further assess the areas and potential drinking water impacts.

View a full list of contaminants of concern for this site.

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Performance Measures

EPA uses performance measures to track environmental results at Superfund sites. If you have any questions or concerns about the measures at this site, please contact the site team members listed under Site Contacts.

Read more about Superfund Remedial Performance Measures.

Status at this
Superfund Site
What does this mean?
Human Exposure Under Control Yes Yes means assessments indicate that across the entire site:
  1. There are currently no unacceptable human exposure pathways; and
  2. EPA has determined the site is under control for human exposure.

No means an unsafe level of contamination has been detected at the site and a reasonable expectation exists that people could be exposed.

Insufficient data means that, due to uncertainty regarding exposures, one cannot draw conclusions as to whether human exposures are controlled, typically because:
  1. Response to the contamination has not begun; or
  2. The response has begun, but it has not yet generated information sufficiently reliable to evaluate whether there are currently any unacceptable human exposure pathways at the site.
Groundwater Migration Under Control Yes

Yes means EPA reviewed all information on known and reasonably expected groundwater contamination. EPA concluded the migration of contaminated groundwater is stabilized and there is no unacceptable discharge to surface water. EPA will conduct monitoring to confirm that affected groundwater remains in the original area of contamination.

No means EPA has reviewed all information on known and reasonably expected groundwater contamination, and the migration of contaminated groundwater is not stabilized.

Insufficient data means that due to uncertainty regarding contaminated groundwater migration, EPA cannot draw conclusions as to whether the migration of contaminated groundwater is stabilized.

Construction Complete No

Yes means the physical construction of the cleanup is complete for the entire site.

No means either physical construction is not complete or actions are still needed to address contamination.

Sitewide Ready for Anticipated Use No Yes means:
  1. All cleanup goals affecting current and reasonably anticipated future land uses of the entire site have been achieved, so there are no unacceptable risks;
  2. All required land-use restrictions or other controls have been put in place; and
  3. The site has achieved Construction Complete status.

No means that one or more of these three criteria have not been met. However, a site listed as no may still have redevelopment occurring on portions of the site and may be eligible for additional redevelopment.

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