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Indiana Department of Environmental Management

IDEM > Permitting > Land Permits > Land and Waste Disposal Issues > Site Summaries > Newport Chemical Activity - Formerly Newport Army Ammunition Plant Newport, IN Newport Chemical Activity - Formerly Newport Army Ammunition Plant Newport, IN

A. Background Information

1) Location:
Newport Chemical Activity is located in Vermillion County, Indiana, 2 miles south of Newport, Indiana. The immediate area is principally an agricultural area. Nearby communities have many diversified businesses, the majority of which are in the small business category. The area, in general, is one with a substantial unemployment history.
2) Size:
6,990 acres.
3) Population:
Weekly - 250 to 300 Weekends - 1,000+
  • Government contracts awarded in the area have had a pronounced effect on the general business climate. Plant employees are nearly all residents of Vermillion, Vigo, and Parke Counties in Indiana, and Vermillion and Edgar counties in Illinois.
4) History:
On November 14, 1941, authorization for the construction of an RDX facility two miles south of Newport, Indiana, on Indiana Route #63 was granted. The land for the project consisted of 21,986 acres and cost $2,240,620. By War Department General Order No. 9, February 5, 1942, the new plant was established as the Wabash River Ordnance Works, Newport, Indiana.
  • The E.I. Du Pont de Nemours & Company, Incorporated (Wilmington, Delaware) was awarded the construction contract for the construction of a five-line RDX facility in December 1941. Construction was completed in October 1943 at a cost of $45,717,500.
  • In June 1942, authorization was granted for the construction of a smokeless powder area. Construction commenced in July 1942 and halted in November 1942 due to project cancellation. The project was 21% complete and cost $9,775,000. Certain project warehouses were completed to supplement RDX storage facilities and others were eliminated.
  • After the end of World War II, various tracts of land were sold and the plant reduced to its present 6,990 acres.
  • In 1951, while Du Pont was manufacturing heavy water, the Liberty Powder Defense Corporation of East Alton, Illinois, rehabilitated two of the five RDX lines and related facilities at a cost of $4,361,652. Liberty Powder Defense Corporation operated the plant under contract with the U.S. Army from August 1951 until March 1957. The plant produced RDX, Comp-A3, A4, C3, Ce, D2, M5Al, Blocks, and M37 Demo Kits.
  • During the period 1957 through 1960, there was no production at the site. The RDX plant was maintained in standby by Liberty Powder Defense corporation until the corporation liquidated in December 1961 and all of its interests were assumed by the parent company, Olin Mathieson Chemical Corporation.
  • In 1959, the US Army announced the award of a contract to the FMC Corporation of New York City, New York, for the design and construction of a facility to manufacture Chemical Agent VX. The facility was located in the area formerly used for the production of heavy water. The new facility, completed in 1961 at a cost of $16,498,000 and operated under US Army contract by FMC, remained in production until 1968 when it was placed in standby. Department of Army General Order No. 33, dated 22 September 1961, established this new facility as the Newport Chemical Plant located within the confines of the Wabash River Ordnance Works. Later, Department of Army General Order No. 29, dated July 3, 1963, renamed the facility as the Newport Army Chemicals Plant.
  • By Department of Army General Order No. 29, dated August 27, 1964, the Wabash River Ordnance Works, also known as the Wabash River Ammunition Plant, and the Newport Army Chemical Plant were combined into the Newport Army Ammunition Plant.
  • In April 1968, Du Pont was awarded a contract for the design and procurement of all process equipment for a five-line CIL process TNT facility. The equipment was to be installed and erected by the US Army Corps of Engineers. Revised estimated total cost was $101 million. Fegles Construction Company/C&I Girdler was awarded a letter contract for construction of the total TNT project on September 13, 1968. Differences over cost escalations and contract modifications resulted in Fegles' contract being terminated in December 1969 with only 15% of the TNT project construction completed.
  • The construction contract was awarded April 28, 1972, and beneficial occupancy occurred August 31, 1973. However, this facility has never operated to date.
  • Startup production continued, first on line one, then line two, through April 1974 when TNT production was terminated. In early June 1974, Du Pont announced their decision to withdraw as operating contractor at Newport upon completion of the TNT facilities layaway project scheduled for completion by July 1975.
  • On May 5, 1975, Contract No. DAAA09-75-C-4011 was awarded to Uniroyal, Inc., for the standby operation of the plant as well as the surveillance operation of the VX storage lot and chemical plant, with a takeover date of July 1, 1975, established. Mason and Hanger-Silas Mason Co., Inc. became the installation contractor in 1986.
  • An overview of IRP activity at Newport follows:
    • 1977- Installation Assessment
    • Site Investigation
    • Remedial Investigation
  • Due to the change in mission status (from production to storage), the name of the facility changed to Newport Chemical Activity (NECA)in 1995. This change was recognized by IDEM in a Class I Permit Modification, 1996.
5) Mission
Standby operation, surveillance, maintenance, and storage of chemical nerve agent (VX). Former production and storage of explosives, filling of chemical munitions, production of heavy water.

B. Environmental Issues

In accordance with the US Army regulations AR 200-1, USATHAMA has the responsibility to identify, control, and/or eliminate the migration of existing or potential contamination resulting from past operations. This responsibility is accomplished by means of the Installation Restoration Program (IRP) process. Like the US Environmental Protection Agency's (US U.S. EPA) Superfund Program, the IRP follows the National Contingency Plan (NCP), as presented in 40 CFR 300. IRP activities also comply with applicable state and local requirements. Conceptually, the IRP is subdivided into three phases--Discovery, Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study (RI/FS), and Remedial Design/Remedial Action (RD/RA).

Based on information gathered during the discovery phase, consisting of the Installation Assessment conducted for NAAP by USATHAMA (1979) and subsequent inquiries by USATHAMA and NAAP, conditions were found that indicated the potential for contamination from past operations at several sites at NAAP. One of the sites, the Trinitrotoluene (TNT) Burning Ground (TNT-BG) was identified as a separate RI site and subsequent studies were conducted to identify the extent and source of contamination. Five additional sites--the Night Soils Pits (NSPs), Trinitrotoluene (TNT) Manufacturing Area (TNT-MA), Chemical Plant (CP), decontaminated Waste Burial Ground (DWBG), and Little Raccoon Creek (LRC)--were subsequently identified by USATHAMA as sites were potentially hazardous materials may have resulted inn environmental contamination.

Because little or no prior environmental sampling had been conducted at these five sites, it was deemed appropriate to conduct a limited field program, or SI, as part of the discovery process. The findings of the SI conducted at these five sites are presented as a separate document.

The RI process was initiated at the RWAB, GSB/PCCRP, RDX-BG, RDX-MA, and CSL with the implementation of the Revised Technical Plan for Groundwater Contamination Remedial Investigation (USATHAMA, 1988) performed under Contract No. DAAA-15-85-D-0016, Task Order No. 6, by Dames & Moore. After data were gathered and reviewed, it was apparent that insufficient data had been collected to complete the RI process. Subsequently, additional (Phase II) RI activities were proposed at each of these five sites to fill data gaps identified by the initial (Phase I) RI activities, and implemented as documented in the Revised Technical Plan (USATHAMA, l991a) and the Revised Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP) (USATHAMA, l991b). The Revised Technical Plan incorporated the results of the Phase I RI activities conducted at each of these five sites as well as additional information gathered by previous studies.

It should be noted that the Revised Technical Plan (USATHAMA, l991a) presented site specific activities for both the SI and RI sites, and the Phase II RI field activities at the RWAB, GSB/PCCRP, RDX-BG, RDX-MA, and CSL were conducted concurrently with the SI field activities. The findings of the SI activities at the NSPs, TNT-MA, CP, DWBG, and LRC are submitted as a separate document, and the findings of the RI activities conducted at the TNT-BG are also submitted as a separate document. The Revised Technical Plan (USATHAMA, l991a) described site-specific activities for both the SI and RI sites; however, several overlapping activities have been incorporated into both the SI and RI reports. Refer to the following for updated site list.

  1. The TNT Burning Ground (TNT BG) located in the southwest quarter of the installation and containing approximately 4.25 acres is considered a contaminated area.
  2. Ten (10) petroleum underground storage tanks (USTs) have been removed. Contamination is present at four (4) of these sites. The exact area of contamination has yet to be determined, however, it is believed to be less than one (1) acre total.
  3. The Decontaminated Waste Burial Ground (DWBG), a 13-acre site in the eastern portion of NAAP, located south of the Chemical Plant and bounded to the west by Little Raccoon Creek (LRC), is considered to be a contaminated area.
  4. The Chemical Plant (CP), located in the eastern portion of NAAP (encompassing approximately 90 acres) is considered to be a contaminated area.
  5. (e) The RDX Manufacturing Area (RDX-MA), comprising approximately 300 acres in the north central portion of NAAP, is considered to be a contaminated area.
  6. The Closed Sanitary Landfill (CSL), approximately 4 acres in size, located in the southeastern corner of NAAP, is considered to be a contaminated area.
  7. The Red Water Ash Basins (RWAB) are located in the south-central area of NAAP. This facility, which consists of three (3) adjacent basins each with dimensions of approximately 250 feet x 300 feet, is considered to be a contaminated area.
  8. The Gypsum Sludge Basins (GSB) and Pollution Control Center Retention Pond (PCCRP) are located in the south central area of NAAP and are located in the south central area of NAAP and are considered jointly because of their close proximity and their functional relationship to each other. The GSB consists of three (3) basins which measure 400 feet x 400 feet x 10 feet each. The PCCRP measures 275 feet x 5 feet. The GSB and the NCCRP are considered contaminated areas.
  9. The Little Raccoon Creek (LRC) originates in the vicinity of the CP and flows south through the eastern portion of NAAP until it exits the property and flows into the Wabash River. Because of LRC's location within NAAP, LRC flows past four (4) sites with contaminated groundwater - the RDX-MA, the CP, the DWBG and the CSL. Therefore, LRC is considered to be a potentially contaminated site.
  10. The RDX Burning Grounds (RDX-BG), approximately 560 feet x 750 feet in size, located in the southwestern portion of the installation, is considered to be a contaminated site.
  11. The Night Soil Pits (NSP) area located in the northwest corner of NAAP is a 250 foot x 250 foot fenced burial area that contains two (2) unlined burial pits and is considered to be a contaminated area.

In the facility's RCRA Hazardous Waste Management Permit Issued 19 May 1993 by US U.S. EPA Region V, the sites above, along with other areas of concern, are identified as Solid Waste Management Units (SWMUs) that must satisfy Corrective Action requirements.

C. Site Status

Technical Review Committee meetings are held annually at Newport and are open to the public.

Solid Waste Management Units- 32 NFRAP, 2 under State Permit, 32 Require Investigation

RCRA Facility Investigation Sampling at the RDX-MA began in November 1994 (Versar, Inc.)IDEM collected split samples in two "strata" of the RDX-MA. Data were presented 26 January 1995, indicating several areas where further delineation is necessary. The field screening methodology proposed at this site did not correlate well with HPLC confirmation, therefore the field screen methodology was abandoned. The last phase of field sampling in the RDX-MA began November 1995. IDEM collected split samples, RDX was detected in three samples (ranging from .37 ppm to 15 PPM). IDEM currently awaits submittal of a formal RFI report for the RDX-MA. Completion is scheduled in December 1996.

The RFI Workplans for Little Raccoon Creek, the Decontaminated Waste Burial Area, and Scrap Yard are under revision. Revised Workplans are expected in June 1996.

A RFI Workplan for petroleum contaminated sites (SWMU #66) was reviewed by IDEM December 1994; IDEM comments were adopted in their entirety by US U.S. EPA. A revised workplan was submitted (Mason and Hanger) in August 1995. Regulatory approval was given October 1995, but before field work began, Mason and Hanger proposed pursuing Risk Based Corrective Action. In an initial meeting, held at U.S. EPA in January 1996, all parties (including Gerald Phillips-Corrective Action Process Manager at U.S. EPA) agreed the sites are good candidate for RBCA. RBCA Work Plans were submitted in April 1996, approval was given and work is expected in August 1996.

A Corrective Measures Study Work Plan for the TNT Burning Ground (SWMU 50) is under revision. At issue is the waste classification of excavated material. It is listed as K044 waste, but is not reactive. Leachability tests (for DNT and metals) will be conducted prior to as part of the CMS to determine what to do with waste. IDEM special waste rules should not apply unless the material is taken off site. A Treatability Study and supporting QAPP for the TNTBG is also under revision.

A Corrective Action Monitoring Plan for the Night Soil Pits (SWMUs 1 and 2) was submitted in May 1995. IDEM's Suggested revisions were submitted to US U.S. EPA June 1995.

Draft RFI Work Plans for 24 SMUs and AOCM (ENTECH) were submitted in January 1995 and are still under revision, were resubmitted in June of 1996, and are under review.

Draft Work Plans for an Interim Remedial Action at the Red Water Ash basins was submitted April 1996.