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Ft. Jackson: Trace Chemicals Found in Groundwater

9:26 AM, Nov 15, 2013   |    comments
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Columbia, SC (WLTX) -- Fort Jackson leaders say they've found a trace ammount of chemicals used in ammunition in groundwater near the southern boundary of the base.

Ft. Jackson participates in a nation-wide testing program, to determine the environmental impact of ammunition training.

The program, deemed 'O.R.A.P.' - or Operational Range Assessment Program, was implemented in 2004 by the Department Of Defense, to determine if ammunition chemicals used during standard military training has any impact on human health or the environment.

Ft. Jackson's program, run by the U.S. Army Environmental Command, started participation in ORAP Phase 1 in 2006, and the 2nd phase assessments were started at the base in 2012.

Recent testing on Ft. Jackson and the McCrady Training Center detected trace amounts of Royal Demolition Explosives (RDX) in groundwater taken from the southern boundary.

McCrady occupies the eastern third of the Ft. Jackson base, providing weaponry training to the SC Army National Guard.

RDX is a man-made chemical used in ammunition, and is inert when found in water.

The Centers for Disease Control report that ingestion of large amounts of RDX could cause seizures in adults and children. 

Brig. General Bradley Becker, commanding General of Ft. Jackson, said: "the results of our assessment are encouraging. Although there are detectable levels of munitions components from operational ranges near the installation boundary, they are below EPA health advisory levels."

Those EPA exposure levels in drinking water determined not to be harmful are: Drinking Water Concentrations of RDX at 0.1 micro-gram per liter for up to ten days is not expected to cause any adverse effects in a child.

RDX can be measured in blood or urine, but the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry advises these tests are not routine, nor do they indicate whether exposure has been within the last few days of exposure, or exposure over the long-term.

The U.S. Army and Ft. Jackson officials are working to assess more groundwater, including contacting property owners in the area to test more groundwater. They plan to collect more water samples in the first two weeks of December.

"We want to make sure that RDX is not migrating off the installation," Becker said.

Officials said they will notify area property owners of the results approximately four weeks later, feeling this assessment is a necessary precaution.

If RDX is detected at above-risk levels, the Army says they will take appropriate action to resolve the problem. 

Army officials are planning town hall meetings for property owners within a 2-mile radius of Ft. Jackson's southern boundary, although dates and times of those question-and-answer sessions with post and U.S. Army Environmental Command experts, along with members of the firm conducting the study.

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