Restoration Advisory Board (RAB)
Meeting Minutes

Minutes of the Fort Detrick
Restoration Advisory Board Meeting
November 13, 1997

  1. The meeting was convened at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, November 13, 1997. in Conference Room Three of the Goodloe E. Byron Building (810) at Fort Detrick.

    Members Present:

    • Charles W. Billups, Ph.D., Community Member
    • Mr. Larry Bohn, Frederick County Health Department, Community Member
    • Mr. Norman M. Covert, Chief, Public Affairs, Fort Detrick, Board Administrator
    • William R. Effland, Ph.D., Community Member
    • Henry Erbes, Ph.D., Chief, Environmental Management Division, Fort Detrick
    • Mr. Thomas P. Meyer, Project Manager, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District
    • Ms. Helen Miller-Scott, Community Member
    • Ms. Linda Robinson, Community Member
    • Robert R. Rosato, Ph.D., Community Member
    • Lieutenant Colonel Alan Sheaffer, Command Advisor for Wellness and Environment, Fort Detrick, Co-Chairman
    • Mr. Gerald P. Toomey, Community Co-Chairman
    • Craig R. Toussaint, Ph.D., Community Member
    • Mr. Thomas Wade, Community Member

    Also Present:

    • Mr. John Fairbank, Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE)
    • Mr. Dave Iseri, ICF Kaiser
    • Mr. Mike Kipp, ICF Kaiser
    • Mr. Kim Lemaster, Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE)
    • Ms. Eileen Mitchell, Chief, Marketing, Fort Detrick
    • Mr. Douglas Scarborough, U.S. Army Environmental Center (AEC)
    • Ms. Andrea Valenti, U.S. Army Environmental Center (AEC)

    Members Absent:

    • Mr. Phil Berger, Community Member
    • Mr. Richard Isaac, Project Oversight, U.S. Army Environmental Center (AEC)
    • Mr. Dennis Orenshaw, Project Officer, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region II (USEPA)
    • Ms. Constance Stapleton, Community Member
  2. Lt. Col. Sheaffer opened the meeting with a review of recent events and the initial sampling results reminding the board that the investigation is continuing. He asked members to review the minutes from the Sept.18, 1997 meeting.

  3. Dr. Toussaint requested Paragraph 14 be modified, expressing his concern about karst formations in Area B, and that some off-site sampling might answer some questions regarding groundwater flow. It was noted and corrections made. Lt. Col. Sheaffer said he has already discussed this possibility with John Fairbank of MDE and will discuss the topic at a later time.

  4. Lt. Sheaffer introduced Douglas Scarborough (AEC), who reviewed recent sampling results in chronological order. He pointed out the information had just been received.

    • He expressed surprise at the high levels of PCE detected, particularly the jump in Well 37D (40,000 ppb) and 57D (20,000 ppd).
    • In off-post sampling, only Stull's House of Design on Montevue Lane had a hit (2.1 ppb TCE).
    • He said the high numbers resulted in re-sampling of the Robinson Spring on Montevue Lane Oct. 21, 1997 to determine if the contamination was crossing Carroll Creek. Those results, analyzed by Data Chem of Salt Lake City, show 5,000 ppb TCE and 23,000 ppb PCE.
    • Robinson Spring and pond were resampled Nov. 3 and analyzed by U.S. Army Center for Environmental Health Research, Fort Detrick.
    • The Robinson Spring and pond as well as Well 37D were again sampled on Nov. 5. Split samples were taken to be analyzed by Data Chem and USACER.
    • Strong odor of PCE was detected in wells 37D, 57D and 24D. 57D, 24D and 52D were sampled on Nov. 6 and sent to USACEHR for analysis. Results for USACER on Nov. 7 prompted AEC preparation of Executive Summary to Department of the Army.
    • Robinson "Box Spring", which empties into foundation of the old spring house, shows an increase in TCE from 0.54 in April 1997 to 23000 in Oct. 1997; PCE increase is from 4.5 in April to 5000 in Oct. 1997.
    • Robinson "Rock Spring," which flows from a cairn on a hillside, rose from 0.33 TCE in April 1997 to 0.95 in Oct., and a PCE increase from 2.9 in April to 11 in Oct. 1997.
    • USACEHR testing on Area B samples showed no TCE contamination.
    • The Nov. 5 results are not validated, but show a good agreement for volatiles and low TCE.
    • Nov. 5 (not validated) results for grab sample of well 37D is 143 ppb for PCE 20 feet from bottom, and 171 ppb for PCE at bottom.
    • Nov. 6 sampling indicates PCE readings for well 24D at 98 ppb; well 52D at 50 ppb; and well 57D at 1077 ppb. Last week's sampling at the Robinson "Box Spring" show concentrations of TCE and PCE are back down.
  5. Mr. Scarborough continued with charts showing TCE and PCE concentrations from selected Area B wells including: BMW17; BMW24D; BMW37; BMW37D; BMW56D; BMW57D; BMW58D; and BMW59D. The PCE trends are much more dramatic than those for TCE. He pointed out an estimated high of 120,000 for PCE.

  6. Mr. Scarborough concluded his presentation with Area B selected well screen intervals. The wells were screened at various depths below the well surfaces. These wells were drilled into bedrock and tests performed to determine where to put screens. Contamination is showing up very deep. Well 17 was a "hot spot" in the spring with 1000 ppb TCE, but has been dry ever since. Well 17 was a leftover from the early 1980s. Well 37 was drilled in 1992, prior to any knowledge of TCE contamination. The last slide showed groundwater flow in Area B.

  7. Mr. Scarborough characterized as "good news" the August soil gas and geophysics testing. He said TCE soil gas concentrations showed up in the vicinity of B-11. He said the TCE focuses in two areas, with the highest concentrations of soil gas falling in an area about l/4 the size of a football field, in the trench area where glass bottles were found last spring, It is believed the results have identified the source although a well in between the two areas is not picking up any contamination. This well, 56, is a shallow screened well. He added the frustrating thing about karst is there is no pattern or uniform flow. He said there could be a "super highway down there." Sampling of 52D indicated some TCE but no PCE. He reminded RAB members that results of the 1995 dye tracer study showed north and south crossed each other. He said he has asked the Corps of Engineers to put in flow meters. During the dye study, the majority (95%) of the dyes were recovered in the Robinson spring.

  8. Mr. Fairbank said we are not looking at another source for PCE and that we are concentrating in these two areas. He pointed out over 100 sites were monitored during the dye trace study and there is a possibility trench activity is causing the higher readings. Something might have been disturbed, causing the solvent to be released from a container or by container disintegration. Another possibility is that the lowering of the water table could have had an effect on the solvent. Also, a small crack in the karst could have opened into a large crack, or there could simply be a time-lag. At this time there are no specific plans to step up sampling in general, but certain areas will be sampled more frequently, including the Robinson spring if it can be arranged with the owner.

  9. A question was posed to Mr. Robinson as to whether people often stop by his spring to fill water containers. He responded he was not aware of that situation, but that people sometimes ask to fish in his pond. They always decline the request. Lt. Col. Sheaffer suggested he speak with Mr. Robinson after the meeting about the possibility of posting signs warning against use of the pond.

  10. Mr. Toomey questioned the high levels in the Robinson spring and the frequency of testing. He believes there is a correlation between the high levels in wells in Area B and in the Robinson spring. Current data indicates that the solvents are completely volatilized within a few feet of reaching Carroll Creek. Mr. Toomey also questioned the readings at Stull's House of Design. Dr. Effland expressed concern whether weather changes, i.e. storms, could have created a release of contamination. He reminded the group if the chemicals move from the Robinson spring there is a danger of contamination farther off-post. Dr. Erbes said severe weather has not created major changes in the spring up to now. Mr. Fairbank said he would be concerned about run-off during a large storm. He has been watching the situation for over six years and the dry spell from the summer of 1995 was not a bad as the current dry spell. He added soil will hold solvents to a certain point but that during a dry spell solvent in soil can be released to the water. But, he reminded everyone, the high numbers were there prior to rains. Lt. Col. Sheaffer said we will check weather records to see when we had heavy rains. Mr. Scarborough said there was a significant change in levels from spring to August, and that there was no change in levels in 37 D since August, even after rains.

  11. Well heads are very secure and tight enough to seal vapor. A key is needed to open the heads. There has been no sign of tampering. Lt. Col. Sheaffer had originally questioned whether someone had been out there dumping, but that was not the case. He believes we have found some of the sources of contamination, but that there could be others out there. No geophysics or soil gas testing has been done at 37D because there is no history of dumping in that area. Dr. Effland pointed out solvents are heavier than water, so it is possible solvents could have sunk, causing deposits. Even if a "source" is found, he added, we could still have contamination for years after removing that source. The data, according to Lt. Col. Sheaffer, shows localized sources. He said even if we can not remove all the contamination, we can probably reduce it. He stressed that as important as it is to find the source, it is more important that no people be placed at increased risk. We must continue monitoring to be sure no one is exposed. He believes there is at least one more source out there, in addition to those believed to have been found.

  12. Lt. Col. Sheaffer said we now must find funding, and that the commander is going to Medical Command to try to get funding from that source. Dr. Toussaint said he feels it is a major step to take steps for remediation out of sequence, but that strong evidence of source, as the data indicates, justifies removal action if funding can be secured, even if it involves political pressure. Lt. Col. Sheaffer assured the board we will work hard on the funding issue. At the December RAB he hopes to be able to get members further information on funding.

  13. Lt. Col. Sheaffer stressed he is disturbed by the high levels but, at the same time encouraged. He feels we need more data on well 37D and a few others. He added he does not want to fix one or two sites and leave out something major. Mr. Meyers feels we can come up with estimates based on our existing data. Lt. Col. Sheaffer said the process can not be a "quick and dirty" one, and that the Army must be careful. Serious control measures must be taken since we can not afford mistakes. He reminded the board ICF Kaiser reacted responsibly when debris was found. He again said he feels strongly that draught conditions are responsible for the higher concentrations.

  14. Lt. Col. Sheaffer said a lot more analysis must be done, but that he will work hard on funding and with our partners at MDE and the Corps of Engineers. Dr. Effland asked how much money will be needed to get the job done. Sheaffer said at least several million. He added when the budget was prepared for the RI/FS, it was not known "interim removal" would be needed at this time.

  15. Dr. Rosato asked if there was a good feel for what we are looking for and whether it was mostly inorganics. The majority of what we are looking for is what was typically used in our labs, most of which is not hazardous since there were no carcinogens available at that time, but mostly run-of-the-mill chemicals. Lt. Col. Sheaffer said it is not just the individual chemicals, but those that could be produced when combined. Once located, they would have to be identified and proper procedures taken to ship them out. If in the soil they can be characterized, but if in bottles each must be characterized individually. This could present engineering problems. Dr. Billups questioned whether all chemicals found could be classified chemical warfare and sent to one place for destruction. This would not be possible; each must be characterized before it can be shipped or destroyed. Hazardous characteristics can be done by category.

  16. Mr. Toomey asked if there are plans for testing in the near future. Dr. Erbes said we want to do more testing, especially at the Robinson spring, but we need to brainstorm and look at the budget first. We lost our number one priority status due to changes in funding. We are no longer receiving Defense money and are already getting the lion's share of Medical Command funds. He added there is no exceptional risk since no one affected is using the groundwater. Mr. Fairbank said that despite the fact no one affected is using the groundwater, we need to protect the groundwater in general. Lt. Col. Sheaffer said that the most important issue is taking care of our neighbors, such as the Robinsons.

  17. Ms. Linda Robinson, community RAB member, complemented Mr. Nathan Robinson on his level-headed reaction to high levels of solvent in his residential spring. Dr. Toussaint seconded Ms. Robinson's observation and lauded the openness of the Army on this issue and the way in which information was so quickly shared with the RAB and community at large.

  18. Lt. Col. Sheaffer presented certificates of appreciation and appointment certificates to RAB members who were not present at the September RAB meeting. He congratulated them on the work they have done. He reminded members the next RAB meeting will take place as previously scheduled on Thursday, Dec. 11, 1997 at 7:30 p.m. in Conference Room Three of the Goodloe E. Byron Building (810) at Fort Detrick.

  19. Co-chairman Mr. Toomey reminded RAB members the Army had only received much of the information disclosed at tonight's meeting just eight hours prior to the meeting. He stressed his concern for additional sampling, even if rudimentary. He added he would like to see this issue, along with that of the budget, made priority. One member questioned if capping would be more practical if funding can not be obtained for interim removal; Mr. Fairchild feels this would not be a feasible solution due to the sinking properties of TCE. The matter of up-creek pumping and flow monitors was raised. The general feeling was that alternatives must be looked at if money can not be obtained for removal. Another member questioned whether it would be possible for the State to provide money for additional testing, but State officials added their money comes from the Department of the Army and that 60% of funds requested last year were received. They did add, however, that it was possible for the State to run some samples through their lab. Thhe would have to work that out with Fort Detrick since the State can run splits with us but cannot do testing on their own.

  20. Lt. Col. Sheaffer thanked all those responsible at Fort Detrick along with Doug Scarborough, Tom Meyers and MDE for helping out during last week's testing while he was away. He again reminded members of the next RAB on Dec. 11 and adjourned the meeting at 9:15 p.m.

Alan Sheaffer
Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Army

Albert E.Kinkead
Colonel, U.S. Army

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