Mineral County Independent-News recently sat down with a representative from the US Army as well as their contractor regarding the remedial cleanup of the Whiskey Flats area.
Speaking with Greg Jacobs, Hawthorne Army Ammunition Depot Environmental representative and Melanie Enman, contractor for HWAD with Engineering/Remediation Resources Group, Inc. (ERRG) from California.
The Whiskey Flat Munitions Response Site (MRS) at the depot is approximately 4,349 acres of land just south of the Hawthorne Army Ammunition Depot and is on lands that are managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
The Whiskey Flat MRS area is open to the public for recreational use and authorized livestock graving. Between the years of 1968-1975, rockets were tested on Army property within the depot, but it has been addressed that munitions could be present on the BLM land. Part of this area includes the Lance Corporal Timothy G. Carter Mortar Test Range’s safety fan.
This project, which began in 2013, concluded that there could be the possibility of military munitions within the Whiskey Flat MRS. It was determined that this could become a potential hazard for current and even future users of the area therefore a remediation plan was put into place.
The Army completed the “Final Feasibility Study Report: Whiskey Flat and Old Bomb Rocket Firing Range-East Munitions Response Sites, Hawthorne Army Depot” in 2014. Here, the Army recommended the “3Rs (Recognize, Retreat and Report) explosives safety educational awareness, a complete surface removal and focused subsurface removal using advanced geophysical classification/digital geophysical mapping,” as addressed in the final remedial action decision document given to the Independent-News by Jacobs.
This process would be done by UXO-qualified personnel and would cost $26,932,056.
ERRG has begun the process of sweeping the area for munitions. After a comprehensive sweep, ERRG has started the process of mowing down vegetation within the mapped area to look for more unexploded ordnance. Before any disruption to the area even began, studies were conducted as to animal, plant and bird life within the area to make sure that no lasting damage would affect those who make the area of their home.
Besides finding ordnance related items, ERRG has also taken the responsibility of being stewards of the land and cleaning up “truckloads of household municipal trash” that has been dumped in the area.
Jacobs would like to remind resident of Mineral County that Hawthorne Army Ammunition Depot has reached out to in the community to join the Restoration Advisory Board where questions and comments can be addressed as well as holding various public meetings, where at times, only three people would attend. It is his hope that more people will become involved in community involvement either with asking of questions, giving history of the depot or voicing a concern.
Enman shared, “The community involvement is an incredibly important part of every one of these CERCLA processes and CERLA clean-ups. The point we are trying to make is that Hawthorne Army Depot has done their due diligence with the respect of reaching out to the community.”
“There are no secrets,” stated Jacobs. “We are trying to do the right thing. We have absolutely met the spirit and intent of the community involvement and we welcome any further engagement.”
Jacobs is hoping that there is response from community leaders, residents and interested parties to join the Restoration Advisory Board. He went on further to explain that document regarding this project as well as others, are available for review at the base.
Jacobs can be reached by calling 945-7493. Enman can be contacted by calling 415-595-0718. Both are open to questions regarding the clean-up effort around the Hawthorne Army Ammunition Depot.