EPA Seeks Input on Use of Grenade Simulators at Camp Edwards

A 30-day public comment period began Jan. 20 for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed agreement to allow the Massachusetts National Guard (MANG) and other military agencies to resume training using a reformulated pyrotechnic device, the M116A1 Hand Grenade, for a two-year period to commence the first day of use on the Massachusetts Military Reservation (MMR).

The comment period, which runs through Feb. 20, provides an opportunity for public input on this limited, two-year authorization. This authorization process is part of EPA’s regulatory role at the Massachusetts Military Reservation to protect the sole source Cape Cod Aquifer, pursuant to the Safe Drinking Water Act.

Since 1997, EPA has issued four administrative orders (AOs) at the base within the scope of the Safe Drinking Water Act, among other provisions. The second administrative order included the suspension of particular military training activities at the Training Range and Impact area of MMR, due to the nature of the potential contaminants within some of the training devices. This order also included a provision for modifying the scope of work requirements if, “documentation demonstrating that the use of a … pyrotechnic that is suspended pursuant to the Order does not present a threat of harm to the public or the environment that would warrant its continued suspension under this Order.”

In a letter dated Oct. 26, 2009, the Massachusetts National Guard on behalf of itself and the National Guard Bureau, requested approval from EPA to resume training using the reformulated pyrotechnic device. The petition included information on the chemical makeup (reformulated without perchlorate) of the grenade and a description of its intended use. Based on the chemical makeup and the number of items proposed for use and the size of the area in which they will be used, EPA has made a preliminary determination that the use of these items will not pose a threat to the sole source aquifer.

The limited authorization to use this device, is conditional upon the Massachusetts National Guard’s compliance with all conditions established by the Environmental Management Commission, (EMC), it does not extend to any other pyrotechnic device or hand grenade simulator, and also requires that MANG submit a report 60 days prior to the end of the two-year period on the use and environmental impacts of the M116A1 Hand Grenade simulator including sampling data from the areas of use.

Comments can be submitted by mail to Jeanethe Falvey, U.S. EPA New England, Region 1, 5 Post Office Square, Boston, MA 02109-3912, by fax to 617.918.0020 or by e-mail to Falvey.Jeanethe@epamail.epa.gov.

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