Alabama Army Ammunition Plant
Site Summary ProfileEPA ID: AL6210020008
Location: Childersburg, Talladega County, AL
Lat/Long: 33.338100, -086.326800
Congressional District: 03
NPL Status: Proposed: 10/15/84; Final: 07/22/87
Affected Media: Debris, Residuals, Sediment, Soil
Cleanup Status: Physical cleanup activities have started
Human Exposure Under Control: Yes
Ground water Migration Under Control: Yes
Sitewide Ready for Anticipated Use: No
Site Reuse/Redevelopment: Area A - occasional logging, wildlife preserve; Area B - industrial reuse with ancillary commercial, recreational and natural habitat areas
Site Manager: Hugh Hazen (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The Alabama Army Ammunition Plant (AAAP) site is the location of a former explosives manufacturing facility. EPA placed the site on the National Priorities List (NPL) in 1987 because past operations contaminated soil, sediments and ground water. The Army, EPA and the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) have investigated site conditions and taken steps to clean up the site in order to protect people and the environment from contamination. Site contamination does not currently threaten people living and working near the site. By cleaning up and monitoring soils and ground water, enforcing institutional controls, and conducting required Five-Year Reviews, the Army, EPA and ADEM continue to make sure residents and the environment are protected from site contamination.
Site Location and Background
The 5,170-acre site is located in Talladega County, Alabama, just east of the Coosa River and 40 miles southeast of Birmingham. The nearest city is Childersburg, which is about four miles south of the site.
From 1941 until 1945, a company manufactured explosives at the plant under contract with the federal government. In August 1945, the federal government placed the plant on standby status. In 1973, the Army declared the plant to be excess property and transferred it to the General Services Administration (GSA) so that GSA could sell the property. However, GSA rejected about 1,620 acres of the former manufacturing area because of contamination concerns. In 1977, a company purchased a 1,354-acre parcel located within the GSA portion of the site for use as a paper mill. Bowater Newsprint Corporation currently owns the paper mill.
In 1981, parties divided most of the site into two areas:
- Area A (2,714 acres): the location of the plant’s former storage area and the GSA Area.
- Area B (2,187 acres): the location of the plant’s former manufacturing area.
In 1987, EPA placed the site on the NPL. After the Army, EPA and ADEM determined that ground water in Area A was not contaminated, the U.S. Department of Defense, or DoD, sold a clean portion of the Area A property to private property owners in 1991. The rest of the GSA Area remained under federal government control. Area A is currently used for occasional logging and as a wildlife preserve.
The Army, EPA and ADEM have been working together since the 1990s to clean up Area A and Area B soils. In 2003, DoD transferred Area B to the City of Childersburg to use for several purposes, including industrial, commercial and recreational land uses and wildlife habitat. The city plans to develop Area B into an industrial park while investigation of contaminated ground water on the property is ongoing.
Threats and Contaminants
Site investigations identified contamination in ground water, sediment, soils and debris that could potentially harm people in the area. Contaminants of concern include chemicals related to explosives manufacturing, such as trinitrotoluene, dinitrotoluene and tetryl. Spills, disposal sites and general wastes from manufacturing processes are the sources of the contamination at the site.
EPA has also determined that people are not being harmed by site contamination (i.e., human exposure is under control).
DoD has restricted the use of most of the Area B property to industrial land uses. However, portions of the Area B property are available for commercial and recreational land uses and wildlife habitat.
Investigation and Cleanup Responsibility / Oversight
The Army leads the investigation and cleanup of the site, with oversight provided by EPA and ADEM.
Site Cleanup Plan
Site investigations and cleanup activities have focused on six areas, which EPA refers to as operable units, or OUs.
- OU-1: Area B (Stockpiled Soils).
- OU-2: Area B (Study Areas 6, 7, 10 and 21).
- OU-3: Area A (Study Areas 12 and D).
- OU-4: Area B (Area B Soils and Ground Water).
- OU-5: Area A (Area A Soils and Ground Water).
- OU-6: Area B (Study Areas 2, 10, 16, 17, 19 and 22).
Between 1991 and 1997, the Army and EPA issued six cleanup plans (Records of Decision, or RODs) for the site, including a final cleanup plan for Area A. The plans describe the Army’s approach for cleaning up ground water and soil for different parts of the site.
In August 2010, the Army submitted a plan to complete the cleanup of soils in Area B. EPA and ADEM are reviewing the plan. The Army is also considering cleanup approaches for ground water contamination in Area B; after selecting the best approach, the Army and EPA will issue a cleanup plan.
Between 1994 and 1997, the Army cleaned up about 120,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil. The Army completed cleanup actions at Area A in 1998 and is continuing with cleanup actions in Area B.
In 1994, the Army completed thermal treatment of stockpiled soils in Area A. In 1995, the Army finished digging up and thermally treating explosives-contaminated soil from Study Area 12. In 1998, the Army completed all soil and ground water cleanup activities for Area A.
The Army has completed several cleanup actions on parts of Area B. In 1996, the Army completed the process of digging up and thermally treating soils from the old industrial areas in Study Areas 6, 7, 10 and 21. In 1997, the Army completed its cleanup of contaminated soils in Study Areas 2, 10, 16, 17, 19 and 22. In 2000 and 2001, the Army installed 20 new ground water monitoring wells. The Army is evaluating how far the ground water contamination has spread and its potential impacts on drinking and recreational water sources.
The site’s second Five-Year Review, completed in 2008, found that the cleanup actions for OU-1, OU-2 and OU-6 continue to protect people from remaining site contamination.
For many years, EPA has been working with its federal and state partners to clean up the site. In 1989, the Army, EPA and ADEM signed a Federal Facilities Agreement to make sure the parties fully investigate environmental impacts associated with past and present activities at the site and undertake and complete proper cleanup actions.
EPA has worked with the community and its state and federal partners to develop a long-term cleanup plan for the site, reflecting the Agency’s commitment to safe, healthy communities and environmental protection. Community engagement and public outreach are core components of EPA program activities.
EPA has conducted a range of community involvement activities to solicit community input and to make sure the public remains informed about site activities throughout the cleanup process. Outreach efforts have included public notices and information meetings.
The Army will undertake cleanup actions for soils in Area B following approval of the Area B soils cleanup plan.
The Army is investigating contaminated ground water in Area B and evaluating possible cleanup approaches.
Long-term ground water monitoring and treatment are ongoing.
EPA completed the last Five-Year Review in 2008 and plans to complete the next Five-Year Review in 2013.
EPA keeps additional site documents and information in a site information repository at the location below. EPA also posts site documents, when available, on EPA’s CERCLIS Site Profile page. For documents not available on the website, please contact the Region 4 Freedom of Information Office.
Site RepositoryEarl A. Rainwater Memorial Library
124 9th Avenue SW
Childersburg, Alabama 35044