Superfund Information Systems: Site Profile

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The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Technical Center site is located in Ocean County, New Jersey, eight miles north of Atlantic City. A New Jersey Air National Guard Station is located on site as well. FAA and National Guard activities led to soil, sediment and groundwater contamination. A Naval Air Station previously located there also contributed to it. Following short-term cleanups to protect human health and the environment, planning for the site’s long-term cleanup is ongoing.

The FAA Technical Center property was first developed during the 1930s, when it was established as the Atlantic City Watershed, the main water supply for the city. In 1936, the City dammed on-site streams to create the Upper and Lower Atlantic City Reservoirs. In the 1940s, the Atlantic City Municipal Airport and a U.S. Naval Air Station were established at the site. It was during this time that contamination was first introduced to the site by Navy and airport operations. In 1958, the Naval facility was transferred to the Airways and Modernization Board (AMB) and the installation was designated the National Aviation Facilities Experimental Center (NAFEC). In 1958, the FAA was established and took over the operation of the AMB, Including the NAFEC. FAA operations, especially during the 1960s and 1970s involved releases that also resulted in site contamination.

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What Has Been Done to Clean Up the Site?

Pump-and-treat systems are in place to address groundwater contamination. These systems bring contaminated water to a central treatment plant, where the contaminants, primarily volatile organic compounds (VOCs), break down into nontoxic byproducts. The systems then pump the treated water back into the aquifer. One area of groundwater contamination remains in which the New Jersey Air National Guard manages. It is currently in the remedial investigation/feasibility stage of the Superfund process.

Contaminated soil and sediment have been addressed by short-term cleanups such as removal actions and, in some cases, by covers and land use controls. These are designed to prevent unacceptable exposures

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What Is the Current Site Status?

The FAA has identified almost 30 areas of concern at the site.

Pump and treat systems, as the term implies, involves the pumping of contaminated groundwater to the surface to a treatment plant where the contaminants, primarily volatile organic compounds (VOCs), are broken down to innocuous by products. The treated water is then pumped back to the aquifer from where it originated. FAA has a central treatment plant where most of the groundwater pumped from contaminated aquifers is treated. There remains one groundwater operable unit (OU) managed by the New Jersey Air National Guard that is in the remedial investigation/feasibility study stage.

Contaminated soil and sediment have generally been addressed by removals and in some cases covers and land use controls (LUCs). Covers and LUCs are designed to prevent unacceptable exposure. The Navy formerly occupied the site and is responsible for several OUs including contaminated soil and sediment. Most notably, mercury contamination is found in on-site streams and reservoir sediment. Past U.S. Navy activities may also have left behind unexploded ordinance. FUDS’ Military Munitions Response Program is currently looking into this possibility. Once the investigation is complete, a remedy will be selected.
Activities at the FAA Tech Center have also led to PFC (Perfluorinated Compounds) contamination in groundwater.  One source of the PFCs has been identified as the FireTraining Area operated by the FAA where aqueous film-forming foams containing PFCs were used. Other sources of PFCs may originate from the Air National Guard facilities and the Atlantic City International Airport.  The Air National Guard is performing a Preliminary Assessment/Site Investigation (PA/SI) to determine the nature of PFC contamination that may be origination from their facility.  The FAA Tech Center is also performing a PA/SI for PFC contamination released at their portions of the site.  

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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.

As previously mentioned, access to the FAA Tech Center is limited by fencing and secured entrances to the facility.  The reservoirs are monitored to ensure that fishing does not occur

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Sampling and Monitoring

Sampling of soil, sediment, surface water, groundwater, and biota has occurs regularly to determine the nature and extent of contamination on the facility.

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