NEBRASKA ORDNANCE PLANT (FORMER)
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The 17,000-acre Nebraska Ordnance Plant (NOP) near Mead, Nebraska, operated as a munitions productions plant from 1942 to 1956. Later uses of the area included munitions storage, ammonium nitrate production, and agricultural research and development. Disposal of radioactive wastes, solid wastes and other chemicals at the site led to contamination of groundwater with volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and explosives. The University of Nebraska currently owns and operates its Agricultural Research and Development Center (ARDC) on the Former NOP property. Operation and maintenance activities and monitoring of the remedial action are ongoing.
The site was listed on the National Priorities List on August 30, 1990. In September 1991, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (NDEQ) entered into a Federal Facilities Agreement (FFA) that prescribes the Army’s role for cleaning up the site, and roles for EPA and NDEQ in overseeing the cleanup.
The site has been divided into four operable units (OU):
- OU 1 encompasses the upper four feet of soil contaminated with explosive compounds;
- OU 2 includes contaminated groundwater, explosives-contaminated soil not remediated during OU 1, which could act as a source of explosives contamination of groundwater, and soil contaminated with volatile organic compounds (VOCs);
- OU 3 includes a former on-site landfill and areas of waste not previously identified; and
- OU 5 addresses groundwater at Load Line 1 contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, and closure and post-closure activities at the ARDC Landfill.
The University of Nebraska has been named the Responsible Party (RP) for OU 5. The University entered into a Consent Decree with the EPA on June 12, 2015, that describes its role in the cleanup of OU 5.
What Has Been Done to Clean Up the Site?
The site is being addressed through federal and responsible party actions, with oversight provided by the EPA and the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy (NDEE).
USACE completed the Five-Year Review of the site’s remedy in June 2014. Five-Year Reviews evaluate whether remedies put in place continue to protect public health and the environment, and function as intended by site decision documents. The most recent review concluded that response actions at the site are in accordance with the remedy selected by USACE in consultation with EPA and that the remedy is protective of human health and the environment.
What Is the Current Site Status?
The remedy for site soils involved incineration of 16,500 cubic yards of explosive-contaminated soils in 1998. University of Nebraska (NU) conducted cleanups to address buried wastes at their ARDC areas. This waste was excavated and disposed at approved off-site facilities by early 2008. The remedy for groundwater contamination includes extraction and treatment. Operation and maintenance and monitoring of the groundwater remedy are ongoing.