SOUTH WELLFLEET -- An investigation into potential contaminants in the ground at the former Camp Wellfleet, from munitions used at the former military base from 1942 to 1961, is nearly complete, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
"Preliminary sampling indicates no issues with regard to contamination," Army Corps Project Manager Gina Kaso wrote in a statement emailed to the Times. There is no indication that a second round of sampling is needed, according to Kaso.
The investigation of the site occurred last year and a draft version of the investigation report is currently under review by stakeholders such as the state Department of Environmental Protection, according to Army Corps spokesman Timothy Dugan. The Wellfleet Select Board recently gave the Army Corps authorization to access the property for another year.
With finalization of the report scheduled for the the late spring, a feasibility study would be developed to evaluate alternatives to handle contamination if any has been found, Dugan said.
Camp Wellfleet was located east of Route 6, from Lecount Hollow Road to the Eastham town line. In the early 1940s, the U.S. Army used the base for antiaircraft training, and in the mid-1940s the U.S. Navy used it for missile testing and for mobile radar training. From 1947 to 1961, the Army trained guardsmen and reservists before the land became part of the Cape Cod National Seashore in 1961.
"We may require additional field work, which could temporarily impact areas within the park, but should not have a long term impact on park usage," Kaso wrote.
The Seashore staff is continuing to work with the Army Corps and help as needed on the project, Seashore Superintendent Brian Carlstrom said.
"It's basically a continuation of work going on for decades," Carlstrom said.
Before the project kickoff, in 2017, another Army Corps project manager said that no significant soil contamination was expected based on initial analysis and removal of old munitions debris and scrap metal 10 years earlier. Among the many former military defense sites across the country that have been or are being cleaned up, Camp Wellfleet was not considered a high priority for risk to human safety, the previous project manager said at that time.
Of 213 formerly used defense sites, known as FUDS sites, in Massachusetts, most have been cleaned up and are considered closed cases, according to Army Corps materials. Camp Wellfleet is one of 19 active remediation projects in the state as of February. Two other active projects in the region are on Nantucket and at Tisbury Great Pond on Martha's Vineyard.
Based on the munitions and debris that had already been retrieved and disposed of, the contractor for the project was to develop a list of potential soil contaminants and then take an initial set of soil samples in the areas where the old munitions were found. The list of possible soil contaminants -- prior to any sampling -- included potassium perchlorate, as well as barium, copper, lead, nickel, manganese and zinc.
Elevated levels of perchlorate have contaminated groundwater emanating from a former military training and defense contract testing range that operated from the 1930s to the 1990s at Camp Edwards on the Upper Cape. Perchlorate, a contaminant found in fireworks and explosives, is known to adversely affect thyroid function, especially in small children.
This article is written by Mary Ann Bragg from Cape Cod Times, Hyannis, Mass. and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.