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Investigation of munitions response sites kick off in Pine Bluff, Ark.

Huntsville Center Public Affairs Office
Published March 22, 2013
A Huntsville Center survey team of prove it could operate in accordance with the approved Work Plan and Chemical Site Plan for the Pine Bluff Arsenal Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study before proceeding.

A Huntsville Center survey team of prove it could operate in accordance with the approved Work Plan and Chemical Site Plan for the Pine Bluff Arsenal Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study before proceeding.

A survey team from the U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville, visited Pine Bluff Arsenal, Ark., Jan. 16-17 to determine the operational readiness of a site project team to conduct an Army Chemical Warfare Materiel pre-operational survey.

     The site project team had to prove it could operate in accordance with the approved work plan and chemical site plan for the Pine Bluff Arsenal Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study before proceeding.

     Lindsey Miller, the Huntsville Center project manager; Bruce Whisenant, Engineering Directorate; Kellie Williams, Safety Office; and representatives from the Edgewood Chemical and Biological Center (ECBC) and CBRNE Analytical and Remediation Activity (CARA) conducted the survey.

     “Our survey team received superb coordination and assistance from the installation’s Security Office, Safety Office, Environmental Office, Public Affairs Office, Medical Clinic and the Command Group,” Miller said.

     Munitions response sites in the Bombing Mat Vicinity and the Yellow Lake Borrow Area are being investigated in anticipation of a Chemical Warfare Materiel Remedial Investigation Feasibility Study to be conducted there.

     “These sites were chosen based on the historical use and chemical items previously recovered at both munitions response sites,” Miller said.

      “Based on the historical photography analysis and historical records review, there is a high probability to encounter chemical warfare materiel at these two sites.  For these reasons and based on the munitions response site prioritization protocol, a remedial investigation was awarded in FY 2011.”

     Various scenarios such as finding a leaking chemical ordnance round, a medical emergency and a worker becoming contaminated with chemical agent tested the knowledge of the project site team.

     At the conclusion of each scenario, the survey team briefed the findings to the site supervisors.          The survey team identified a total of 32 findings or observations at the Bombing Mat Vicinity and Yellow Lake Borrow Area munitions response sites that required corrections or noted deficiencies.

     The survey team recommended that the site project team met operational readiness requirements and could execute the work in accordance with the approved work plan and gave the go-ahead for the pre-operational survey Jan. 23-15. 

     The team successfully passed the pre-operational survey and intrusive chemical operations at the Bombing Mat Vicinity site started the week of Feb. 4 and are expected to be complete in March. 

     Yellow Lake Borrow Area  intrusive investigation of grids will be complete by mid-May.  The final RI/FS report and decision document are not expected until September 2014.

     The Bombing Mat Vicinity site was used for the burning and disposal of mustard agent munitions, including German Traktor Rockets (GTRs).  The area encompasses approximately 190 acres and is bounded by the Arkansas River, Phillips Creek and undeveloped forest to the west        and north. 

     The Site 12 (Mustard Pits) cleanup in the 1980s included removal of 575 GTRs and more than 4,000 CAIS (K941) containing 3.5 oz. bottles of mustard agent.

     The Yellow Lake Borrow Area was the impact area for a historic 4.2-inch chemical mortar range with the firing point located on the southwest shore of Yellow Lake. 

     Based on the Historical Record Review and aerial photography, Firing Point 3 was identified to the south, and additional impact areas were identified that warranted the expansion of the investigation area from the original fan-shaped 356 acres to 976 acres (768 acres of land). 

     Numerous 4.2-inch mortar rounds have been encountered during borrow area excavation and development.

     The Munitions Assessment Review Board database also identified four GTRs that were recovered in or near the Yellow Lake Borrow Area.