Redstone environmental cleanup process underway

Redstone environmental cleanup process underway

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - The water you drink in and around Redstone Arsenal is now safe, according to environmental engineers in charge of the Arsenal's giant cleanup project.

However, the process is years from being done.

"What we are doing now is an investigation to see what our problem is so that we can remove that waste which is a potential source to ground water," said Jason Watson, an environmental protection specialist for Redstone Arsenal.

Redstone Arsenal is said to be the largest and most challenging military installation cleanup site in the United States.

Environmental Protection Agency specialists say the more than 38,000 acres of Arsenal land is believed to have over 300 sites that need cleanup.

Seventeen of those sites are under investigation right now. They known to have chemical warfare materials, which Redstone's environmental engineers say they must take special steps to remove.

"From metals to solvents to buried ordinance. We've got a little bit of everything out here," said Terry de la Paz, chief of the installation restoration branch of the environmental management division at Redstone.

"Each specific site has its own unique plan and sets of plans that address its specific risks and issues and wastes," said Watson.

The specialists recently did studies in neighborhoods along the southeastern border of the Arsenal.

de la Paz said that starting in the 1940s and ending in the 90s, a facility on that border manufactured solid rocket motor propellant. Two dangerous chemicals used in the process got into the soil and seeped into the ground water, which made its way off the post.

"Luckily for Redstone, it's hugging the eastern boundary. So it's not moving into the neighborhoods, which took us a while to figure that out. We have been very methodical about going out and doing the investigations, making sure we know what is in each sight, so that when we design the protocols for going and unearthing this stuff that we have all the safety and protocols to protect the works and community," said de la Paz.

de la Paz said 31 sites are now fully investigated and they are designing their cleanup effort.

Thirteen are being cleaned right now. A total of 6 sites are completely taken care of and are being monitored.

She said it's going to take several decades to finish this project.

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