Superfund Site Profile

EPA's 35th Anniversary Special feature of Joint Base Cape Cod

Institutional controls are required for this site.

This site requires ICs because a decision document, such as a Record of Decision, has documented some level of contamination and/or remedy component at the site that would restrict use of the site. These ICs are required to help ensure the site is used in an appropriate way and that activities at the site do not damage the cleanup components. These ICs will remain in place for as long as the contamination and/or cleanup components stay on site. The site contacts should be consulted if there are questions on the ICs for this site.

More information about institutional controls at this site.


Joint Base Cape Cod

(Formerly Massachusetts Military Reservation)

Protecting Cape Cod's drinking water continues to be a major focus at EPA New England. The Joint Base Cape Cod (JBCC) (formerly known as the Massachusetts Military Reservation (MMR)), a 22,000-acre property that has been used for military training activities since 1911, is located over a sole source aquifer that provides drinking water for 200,000 year-round and 500,000 seasonal residents of Cape Cod. Parts of the aquifer have been contaminated by fuel spills, training, disposal, and other past activities at JBCC’s Camp Edwards and Otis Air National Guard Base. 

Two environmental cleanup programs at the JBCC are addressing areas of groundwater contamination, known as plumes, and their sources. One program managed by the Air Force is addressing contamination found primarily on Otis Air National Guard Base which is on the southern portion of the JBCC under the authority of Superfund. The other, managed by the Army, is addressing contamination from the northern portion of the base, Camp Edwards/Impact Area, under the authority of the Safe Drinking Water Act. Both of these program's efforts are being conducted with oversight from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.

Otis Air National Guard Base
(Otis ANGB) became a Superfund site in 1989 when it was placed on National Priorities List (NPL). The site overlies the Sagamore Lens which was designated by the EPA as a sole source aquifer under the Safe Drinking Water Act. A Federal Facility Agreement (FFA) was signed in 1991 (and subsequently amended in Feb 2000) governing the Superfund cleanup. Contaminated areas were the result of chemical/fuel spills, fire training activities, landfills, and drainage structures. Since 1984 when contaminants were first detected in monitoring wells, numerous investigations and cleanups have been undertaken and completed. Currently, there are ten groundwater plumes undergoing extraction and treatment with a combined system rate of 10.7 million gallons per day. The Air Force’s land use control program has ensures that groundwater remedies are protective until cleanup levels are met.

Otis Air National Guard – Superfund Documents
Link to EPA Documents
Link to Air Force Documents Click icon for EPA disclaimer. 

Camp Edwards/Impact Area
Concerned that military training was causing even more damage to the groundwater, EPA's New England Office in February 1997 (AO1 (PDF)) ordered the National Guard to conduct a study of the effects of military training on groundwater. In May 1997 (AO2 (PDF)), EPA suspended most military training at Camp Edwards, including all use of live explosives, propellants, flares and lead bullets. It was the first time in our country's history that military training activities had been halted due to environmental and public health concerns. The groundwater study, which is ongoing, has produced evidence of serious groundwater and soil contamination from training with munitions, from unexploded ordnance and from disposal of munitions and other hazardous materials.

As a result of the evidence of contamination, EPA in January 2000 (AO3 (PDF)) ordered the National Guard to begin the process for the removal of unexploded ordnance from the base and to clean up contaminated groundwater and soils. The order was the first of its kind in the country. And in January 2001 (AO4 (PDF)), EPA ordered the military to use a detonation chamber at the base to destroy the more than 2,500 rounds of different kinds of ammunition dug out of burial pits on the base during the course of the military's investigation of pollution at the firing ranges.

All four of EPA's orders were issued under the agency's emergency powers to prevent imminent and substantial endangerment to public health. (The first three orders were issued under the Safe Drinking Water Act, the fourth under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.)

Camp Edwards – Safe Drinking Water Act Documents
Link to EPA Documents
Link to Army Documents Click icon for EPA disclaimer. 

All EPA Available Documents for Joint Base Cape Cod Documents

Please see the Information Repositories maintained by the US Navy and US Army for additional information.