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News Release
February 27, 2002

Bourne Early Warning Wells Detect Perchlorate

(Camp Edwards, MA) — During recent tests by the National Guard Bureau's Impact Area Groundwater Study Program, detections of perchlorate were found in three of four Bourne early-warning monitoring wells located within the Monument Beach well field. Tests done on the drinking-water supply wells for the Bourne Water District found no detections of explosive- or propellant-related contaminants.

"No perchlorate is in any of the Bourne municipal supply wells at this time," said Bourne Water District Superintendent Ralph Marks. "And, the water is safe to drink."

These monitoring or "sentinel" wells serve as an early warning system and are designed to test the quality of water that will be approaching the water supply wells.

"The sentinel wells worked as intended by letting us find these contaminants before they entered the water supply," said Lawrence Dayian, Section Chief with Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection's (MADEP) Division of Water Supply. "This gives us the opportunity to work together to find the best way to move forward and protect the Bourne Water District water supply."

The Groundwater Study Program began more aggressive testing of the Bourne sentinel and water supply wells last year, after finding a detection of perchlorate in a Camp Edwards' monitoring-well positioned upgradient of the Bourne water supply.

A previous sampling of the sentinel wells in October 2001, found no detection of perchlorate, a compound formerly used in propellants for military munitions at Camp Edwards on the Massachusetts Military Reservation. The results from a February 2002 sampling found detection levels of perchlorate ranging from 0.45 to 0.74 parts per billion in three of four sentinel wells. While there is no federal or state drinking water standard for perchlorate, currently there is an EPA action level of 1.5 parts per billion that serves as a trigger for the Camp Edwards investigation.

"We feel any detection that has the potential to affect a town's water supply is serious and demands immediate action," says Groundwater Study Program Manager Ben Gregson.

According to Colonel Richard Murphy, Division Chief for National Guard Bureau Environmental Programs, the Guard and the Groundwater Study Program are committed to addressing this issue with the expedience required to ensure that Bourne's water supply is fully protected. "We are coordinating our efforts to develop a solution so that these detections do not affect the safety of the Bourne Water District and those who depend on it."

Resampling began this week on all monitoring, sentinel and Bourne Water District supply wells. The Groundwater Study Program also has committed to the expedited drilling and sampling of additional monitoring wells. Soil testing and groundwater modeling also will be performed to determine the source of the contamination.

The Guard and the Groundwater Study Program are meeting daily with officials from the Bourne Water District, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MADEP) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), to jointly determine the next steps.

"This Friday, we will be presenting additional information and options to Bourne Water District officials, MADEP and the EPA," Gregson said. "As part of our ongoing effort, residents will be kept informed of progress regarding these activities."

The Impact Area Groundwater Study Program, led by the National Guard Bureau, has been working on an investigation and cleanup of the upper 15,000 acres at Camp Edwards since 1997. The Environmental Protection Agency and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection oversee the program.

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For more information, contact:
Christine Dolen, Groundwater Study Program, (508) 968-5630
Todd Borci, EPA New England Region 1, (617) 918-1358 or (888) 372-7341 ext. 81358
Larry Dayian, MADEP Water Supply Section Chief, (508) 946-2769

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