Superfund Information Systems: Site Profile

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Cleanup Activities

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The 3,500-acre Indian Head Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) site is located in Charles County, Maryland, about 25 miles southwest of Washington, D.C. The NSWC was established in 1890 as the Naval Proving Ground, with the mission of testing explosives and propellants. Over its 100-year history of operations, the facility has manufactured a variety of munitions chemicals. Manufacturing, testing, loading and assembly operations at the site generated explosive, reactive and hazardous wastes. In the past, some of these waste products were routinely dumped into pits and landfills at the facility or burned in open burning grounds. Site activities also included the routine discharge of industrial wastewaters to septic systems, open ditches and storm sewers that emptied directly into surrounding water bodies. These activities contaminated soil and groundwater with hazardous chemicals. Remedies have been selected for 11 of the site’s contaminated areas. Several removal actions are underway.

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What Has Been Done to Clean Up the Site?

The site is being addressed through federal actions.

Concurrent with site investigations, the Navy has successfully completed five removal actions to date. Removal actions, or short-term cleanups, have addressed immediate threats to human health and the environment. These actions have included excavation of contaminated soils and slip-lining a sewer pipe to prevent the escape of VOCs into the environment.

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What Is the Current Site Status?

The site’s long-term remedies selected to date include capping, regrading and reestablishing vegetation on site landfills; groundwater and surface water monitoring; in-place treatment of volatile organic compounds (VOCs); excavation and disposal of contaminated soil; and land use controls. Remedy construction began in 2005 and is ongoing.

Contaminants are being addressed under the Department of Defense's Installation Restoration Program; numerous sitewide studies have been done to date. Sixteen areas of contamination are currently in the remedial investigation phase. About 10 other sites are slated for additional limited sampling to determine if a full-scale remedial investigation is warranted.

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