OPERATIONAL RANGE ASSESSMENT PROGRAM:
Updated July 14, 2017
Fort Jackson and the South Carolina National Guard are participating in the Operational Range Assessment Program (ORAP), a large scale, multi-phase program being conducted at military installations nationwide. The purpose of this proactive program is to assess the potential for ammunition chemicals to migrate off ranges. Early identification of a potential release allows the Army to take measures, when necessary, to protect human health and the environment.
Testing on Fort Jackson and McCrady Training Center found traces of Royal Demolition Explosive (RDX) in water taken from wells near the installation’s southern boundary. RDX is a man-made chemical found in ammunition, but it does not pose an explosive risk when found in water. Even though the levels of RDX detected on the installation were well below EPA health advisory levels, Fort Jackson wanted to sample further to determine whether any RDX had migrated off the installation.
A number of private property owners were asked for permission to sample their well water. As of July 2017, we have received analytical results from 170 private wells. RDX was detected in 23 of those wells, High Melting Explosive (HMX) was detected in 17 wells, and Nitrotoluene (NT) was detected in 3 wells.
Public meetings were held November 21, 2013, February 6, 2014, June 17, 2014, and February 4, 2015 at the Weston Lake Community House. Future public meetings will be held when we have new information to share with our neighbors.
The Army is providing bottled water or whole-house filtration systems to residents whose drinking water contains RDX at levels above the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lifetime health risk advisory level of 2.0 µg/L. EPA defines the lifetime health risk level as the concentration in drinking water that is not expected to cause any non-carcinogenic adverse health effects over a lifetime of exposure.
The Army is monitoring residential wells on a periodic basis. The frequency of sampling varies depending on the location and levels of explosive contaminants detected. The latest round of annual sampling was conducted the week of May 22, 2017. The results are consistent with previous results and were mailed to the homeowners in mid-July.
Based on our investigations to date, the RDX in off-post wells is not from our current hand grenade training, but is the result of historical training activities. Despite this, to ensure the safety of future generations, we are treating the soil with hydrated lime at our current hand grenade range on a quarterly basis. Studies have shown that raising the pH of the soil, through the application of lime, significantly reduces the amount of RDX leaving the range.
On June 30, 2016, a contract was awarded to investigate the RDX groundwater contamination impacting off-post private drinking water wells, conduct an engineering evaluation/cost analysis of alternate water sources for private residences impacted by RDX groundwater contamination, and perform operation & maintenance of off-post residential drinking water well filtration systems.
On-post and off-post field work was conducted from November 2016-February 2017 and January-February 2017, respectively (Additional ORAP Sampling map). A letter informing the public of this off-post work was mailed to ~350 Hopkins residents on December 1, 2016. RDX was detected in 5 of 55 groundwater samples and 2 of 132 soil samples collected at Kasserine Pass Range. The analytical results combined with field observations of munition debris items indicate Kasserine Pass Range is a potential source area. RDX was detected in only one of 58 groundwater samples from Inchon Range at a low concentration, therefore, Inchon Range is not currently considered to be a source area. RDX was not detected in any of the 45 groundwater samples collected off-post along Harmon Road and Roberts Road, however, low levels of other explosives were detected. Additional sampling is planned for both on-post and off-post, however, the field work schedule has not yet been determined.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How did Fort Jackson choose the initial wells sampled?
Initially, the wells selected were located near and had a similar depth to Fort Jackson’s wells with RDX detections, based upon publicly available information. Additional wells in the surrounding area were sampled at the request of the homeowner. Homeowners in the affected area may get their water sampled by completing a Right of Entry (ROE) form and mailing it to the address on the form.
Did Fort Jackson decide to sample wells as a result of November 2013 press coverage?
No, Fort Jackson made plans to sample wells in the months leading up to the November press coverage. We notified the media of our intent to sample to keep the community informed.
Where is the RDX come from?
Based on our investigation to date, the RDX found in off-post wells is the result of historical training activities, possibly as early as the 1940s.
Is RDX still being used and, if so, is there an alternative?
RDX is a component of hand grenades and a few other munitions that are currently used to train soldiers. Each soldier practices with dummy grenades, but throws two real grenades during their training. There are no alternatives that provide a realistic training experience for our young men and women. Based on our investigations to date, the RDX in off-post wells is not from our current hand grenade training, but is the result of historical training activities.
Where are the wells containing RDX located?
Click on the briefing links for maps showing the location of Fort Jackson’s wells with RDX detections. The residential detections are not shown to protect homeowners’ privacy.
How often will private wells be re-sampled?
Wells with RDX or HMX detections will be re-sampled periodically to monitor the detection levels. The frequency will be based on the levels detected and will be coordinated with the homeowner prior to sampling.
How mobile is RDX?
Unlike surface water, groundwater at Fort Jackson flows very slowly, at a rate of 3-4 feet/day. Movement of RDX within groundwater would likely be even slower.