Posted Oct. 25, 1998

INSTALLATION ASSESSMENT
OF
GERSTLE RIVER TEST SITE

RECORDS EVALUATION REPORT NO. 105
VOLUME 1
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DECEMBER 1976

DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY
OFFICE OF THE PROJECT MANAGER
FOR
CHEMICAL DEMILITARIZATION AND INSTALLATION RESTORATION
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, MARYLAND 21010

FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

The Records Research Team wishes to thank the various military and civilian agencies that have cooperated with it and provided the information contained herein. In particular, the cooperation of the present and former employees at Fort Greely is especially appreciated.

A special note of thanks is extended to Captain James Verney and Captain David Moss, of the U.S.A. Cold Regions Test Center, who served as points of contact for this assessment. They provided excellent liaison, working closely with the Team in arranging interviews and in locating the documents needed for assessment.

Appreciation is also given to Mr. Bert Johns, of Dugway Proving Ground, who accompanied the Team to Fort Greely. He was in charge of test operations for Deseret Test Center from 1962 to 1967 and had intimate knowledge of test and surveillance operations conducted at the Gerstle River Test Site during this period.

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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

During August 1976, a Records Research (R/R) study was conducted at Fort Greely to estimate possible contamination at the Gerstle River Test Site by chemical, biological, and radiological material, and to assess the possibility of contaminants migrating beyond the boundaries of the installation

As a result of the records search survey, it was discovered that the same organization which conducted the chemical agent tests at the Gerstle River area also conducted biological agent tests at the Delta Creek area of Fort Greely, Alaska. It was decided to include the Delta Creek data in this report so that it could be permanently documented.

The approach used by the R/R Team included (1) the evaluation of available documents on the operations at the Gerstle River Test Site and a literature search conducted at other Government agencies including the Department of Defense Explosive Safety Board (DDESB), the U.S. Army Environmental Hygiene Agency (AEHA), the U.S. Geological Survey, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Defense Documentation Center (DDC), and the National Technical Information Service (NTIS), and (2) interviews with key personnel including present and former employees of U.S. Army Cold Regions Test Center (CRTC) Fort Greely and Dugway Proving Ground.

Findings

Based on the evaluation of available information, the following findings are presented:

1. The records and personnel interviews indicate that contaminant migration at the Gerstle River Test Site is not a problem since (a) the decontamination procedures used before burial of scrap test materials were thorough and complete, and (b) the soil and moisture characteristics at the site are such that even if contaminants were present, leaching of contaminants into the groundwater is unlikely. The Test Site is located in a remote area with no adjacent home sites. The land is unsuitable for agricultural purposes.

2. Records covering incoming material for the 1953 - 1958 time frame are incomplete. An accurate accounting on all material shipped into the Gerstle River area for function and surveillance testing is not available. However, interviews with responsible personnel indicate that all munitions subjected to surveillance testing were properly demilitarized. Although all rounds drawn for functional tests were reportedly accounted for with the possible exception of one 155mm round, it is considered possible that other unexploded ordnance munitions and submunitions may be found at the Gerstle River Test Site.

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3. The records indicate that the Gerstle River Test Site is not contaminated by radiological or biological agent materials. A deep well was prepared and instrumented for use as a radiological material disposal well, but it was never used for this purpose.

4. Two fenced disposal pits are located in the Gerstle River Test Site. These pits were opened in 1970 and contain residue and removed from all known disposal pits in the Gerstle River area. The pits were closed in 1971 after receiving scrap material from pits near Blueberry Lake. Over 400 truckloads of material (dirt plus refuse) were placed in the two pits. Refuse included scrap metal, test vehicles. grid instrumentation, protective clothing, and uncontaminated garbage. The refuse was decontaminated by incineration and chemical treatment before burial.

5. The records indicate that the Delta Creek area of Fort Greely was used for biological agent testing from 1962 through 1967. Ecological studies were conducted at Delta Creek after testing was completed to assure that active biological materials did not remain at the site,

Conclusion

Based on available records, it is concluded that a preliminary survey of the Gerstle River Test Site is not required.

Recommendations

Whether or not the property is retained, consideration should be given to opening the two disposal pits at the Gerstle River Test Site, examining the decontaminated rubble, and moving it to Fort Greely for disposal in the normal manner prescribed for industrial waste. If the Gerstle River Test Site remains in Army possession, consideration should be given to the removal of the warning signs and fences around the pit areas since these only attract the attention of unauthorized curiosity seekers. The area perimeter fences should remain intact to discourage penetration of the area by unauthorized personnel.

Should it be decided to "excess" the Gerstle River Test Site property, it is recommended that the area be swept by an explosive ordnance disposal team to remove large shrapnel fragments and possible UXO’s. One 155 mm HE round was reported to have malfunctioned in this area and it is possible that other UXO’s are present since during one of the cleanup operations, three live rounds were discovered.

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

VOLUME 1

Page
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS i
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY ii
I. GENERAL I-1
1. Purpose of the Assessment. I-1
2. Authority I-1
3. Introduction I-1
4. Summary Description of Fort Greely, Alaska, and U.S. Army
    Cold Regions Test Center (CRTC)
I-3
    a. Location and Size I-3
    b. Area Description I-5
    c. Mission I-8
    d. History 1-9
       (1) Organization I-9
       (2) Land Usage 1-10
5. Environmental Setting 1-12
    a. Water Quality 1-12
       (1) Surface Water I-12
       (2) Groundwater I-12
    b. Fauna and Flora 1-15
       (1) Fauna 1-15
       (2) Flora 1 15
    c. Geology I-18
       (1) Physiography and Topography I-18
       (2) Geologic Formations 1-20
       (3) Soils I-21
II. CONTAMINATION ASSESSMENT II-1
1. Mission and Tenant Activities II-1
    a. Test Facilities II-1
    b. Field Test Sites II-1
       (1) Gerstle River II-1
       (2) Delta Creek II-3
    c. Storage of Chemicals II-11
2. Decontamination Operations II-11
    a. Gerstle River II-11
    b. Delta Creek II-18
3. Installation Land Use Factors II-23
    a. Erosion Control II-23
    b. Trees and Shrubs II-24
       (1) Planting Plan II-24
       (2) Tree and Shrub Maintenance II-25
    c. Lawns II-25
       (1) Mowing II-26
       (2) Fertilizing II-26
    d. Irrigation II-27
    e. Weed and Brush Control II-27
       (1) Prescribed Burning II-27
       (2) Herbicides II-27
    f. Environmental Impact Assessment II-28
    g. Fish and Game Resources II-29
4. Legal Claims II-29
III. FINDINGS III-1
IV. CONCLUSION IV-1
V. RECOMMENDATIONS V-1
DISTRIBUTION LIST

 

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
VOLUME 1

Number

Title

Page
I-1 Location of Fort Greely in Alaska I-4
1-2 Location of CRTC Test Facilities at Fort Greely I-6
I-3 Location of Gerstle River test Site I-7
I-4 Fort Greely Organizational Chart I-11
I-5 General Layout of Fort Greely Proper I-13
I-6 Gerstle River Test Site I-14
I-7 Physiographic Provinces in Central Interior Alaska I-19
I-8 Geologic Map of the Gerstle River Test Site I-22
I-9 Boring Locations I-23
II-1 Chemical Testing Facility at Gerstle River Test Site II-2
II-2 Test Locations at Gerstle River Test Site II-6
II-3 Area Grids 13, 14, 15, and 16 at Delta Creek II-9
II-4 Delta Creek Test Site II-10
II-5 Large Refuse Pit II-12
II-6 Residue Hauled to Gerstle River Receiving Pit II-13
II-7 Large Burial Pit at Gerstle River Test Site II-15
II-8 Large Burial Pit East of Blueberry Lake II-16
II-9 Blueberry Lake II-17
II-10 Blueberry Lake Drained II-19
II-11 Minesweeping the Blueberry Lake II-20
II-12 Munitions Removed from Blueberry Lake and Demilitarized II-22

 

LIST OF TABLES
VOLUME 1

Number

Title

Page
I-1 Water Level Data I-16
I-2 Drilling Logs I-24
II-1 Chemical Tests (Gerstle River) II-4
II-2 Biological Tests (Delta Creek) II-7
II-3 Items Recovered and Demilitarized from Bottom of
Blueberry Lake
11-21

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I. GENERAL

1. Purpose of the Assessment

To assess the indications of actual or potential contamination by chemical, biological, and radiological material at the Gerstle River Test Site (GRTS) of Fort Greely, Alaska, by searching the available le records and interviewing present and former employees;

To determine indications of contaminants migrating from the Installation; and

To identify potential safety problems.

The Records Research Report will serve as a working document for a subsequent preliminary survey, if required. It should be noted that the purpose of a preliminary survey is to confirm the efficacy of the findings presented in the Records Research Report.

2. Authority

Department of the Army (DA) charter to Project Manager for Chemical Demilitarization and Installation Restoration (DRCPM-DR) dated 22 August 1975.

3. Introduction

In response to a letter from the Office of the Project Manager, Chemical Demilitarization and Installation Restoration (PM/CDIR), requesting the identification of potentially contaminated installations, the U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command (TECOM) recommended that the Gerstle River Test Site of Fort Greely be included in the program.

The Commander of U.S. Army Cold Regions Test Center (CRTC) at Fort Greely was briefed on the program prior to the start of the onsite records search. The purpose of this briefing was to outline the assessment scope, to provide guidelines to CRTC personnel for the records research effort, and to establish a working relationship. The Commander selected Captain James Verney and Captain David Moss as the points of contact for the Team. The Team was then briefed by CRTC personnel on past test and disposal operations at the Gerstle River Test Site.

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Before the actual onsite review of records began, various Government agencies were contacted for documentation pertinent to the records search effort. Agencies contacted included the Department of Defense Explosive Safety Board (DDESB), the U.S. Army Environmental Hygiene Agency (AEHA), the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the library at the U. S. Army Engineer Waterways Experiment Station (WES), the Library of Congress the Defense Documentation Center (DDC), and the National Technical Information Service (NTIS).

The onsite search of available records at Fort Greely was initiated on 16 August 1976, and data were collected through 24 August 1976. The Team included a chemist, hydrogeologist, environmentalist, and ordnance engineers. In addition, the Team was assisted by Mr. Bert Johns, Dugway Proving Ground. Mr. Johns was in charge of test operations for the Deseret Test Center from 1962 to 1967 and the Team had to rely in large measure on his testimony and memoranda for record which were, in turn, based on his personal recollections and those of former test directors.

As a resu1t of the records search survey, it was discovered that the same organization which conducted the chemical agent tests at the Gerstle River area also conducted biological agent tests at the Delta Creek area of Fort Greely, Alaska. It was decided to include the Delta Creek data in this report so that it could be permanently documented.

In addition to the review of records, interviews were conducted with more than fifteen persons, including present and former employees (See Appendix A) . Both a helicopter r tour and a ground tour of the site were made. The photographs taken during the tours are included in Appendix B.

Although an attempt was made to obtain the latest, most complete documentation, much of the desired data was not available. More than forty documents (many of which are included in the bibliography, Appendix C) were reviewed. The following sources of information were found to be especially valuable in assessing the Installation and are included in the Appendixes of this report.

A. List of Key Personnel Interviewed

B. Photographs of the Gerstle River Test Site

C. Bibliography

D. List of Biota on Fort Greely, Alaska

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E. Terrain Study of the Army Test Area, Fort Greely, Alaska (A Contribution to Project 8-97-10-004, dated 1957)

F. Environmental Impact Assessment, Bison Habitat Development, Seeding Forage Crop in Jarvis Creek Area, Fort t Greely, 25 March 1974

G. Report on "Operation Cleanup" Alaska, 18 September 1970

H. After Action Report, Relocation of Scrap Material, Arctic Test Center, 29 September 1972 -

J. Installation Natural Resources Management Plan for Fort Greely, Alaska, June 1976

K. Pesticides, Fungicides, and Herbicides That May Have To Be Reported When Used

L. Environmental Impact Assessment, U.S. Army Arctic Test Center, Fort Greely, Alaska (First Revision 10 May 1976)

M. Cooperative Plan For Management of Fish and Game Resources on Army Installations in Alaska (Revised July 1975)

The findings, conclusion, and recommendations are based on the records made available to the Team at the time of the search. In addition, the Team cannot vouch for the accuracy of the data. Where obvious discrepancies existed within the data, attempts were made to determine the correct information by interviewing the personnel involved in preparing the original data (if they could be located).

4. Summary Description of Fort Greely, Alaska, and U,S. Army Cold Regions Test Center (CRTC)

a. Location and Size

Fort Greely, which contains 661,814 acres, lies in the southeastern portion of interior Alaska in an area known as the Tanana Lowlands (figure I-1). Fort Greely is located at 64o 0’North latitude and 145o 43’ West longitude, and is 1,277 feet above sea level. The reservation is located 14 miles along the Richardson Highway south of the confluence of the Delta and Tanana Rivers.

The city in closest proximity is Delta Junction, 5 miles north. The nearest center of major population is the city of Fairbanks, 100 miles northwest. Fairbanks is the terminus of the Richardson Highway and the Alaska Railroad.

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The Alaska Highway and the Richardson Highway pass Fort Greely and join at Delta Junction. Other than these main travel routes, there is little road network. Although much of the area surrounding Fort Greely is uninhabited, oil pipeline construction activities are temporarily doubling the local civilian population in the vicinity of Delta Junction.

b. Area Description

Only the main post of Fort Greely is considered improved. The outlying test sites — Gerstle River, Delta Creek, Bolio Lake, Beales Range, Texas Range - are considered semi - improved, with mostly temporary structures.

Although Fort Greely is not a U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command (USATECOM) installation, the U.S. Army Cold Regions Test Center (a tenant activity at Fort Greely) has operational control of Fort Greely. Chemical, biological, and dud—producing high explosives have been used in the past; however, only conventional high—explosive munitions (and riot control munitions) have been employed in these areas in recent years. The Cold Regions Test Center also uses these ranges for environmental testing. The same area is used by the 172d Infantry Brigade (Alaska) for training. Civilian use of the area is almost entirely recreational.

(1) The USAF Bombing Range and the "Impact Area" (figure 1—2) are currently used for testing conventional high—explosives and riot controls. The requirements of the Cold Regions Test Center, 172d Brigade (Alaska), U.S. Air Force, and rotational units from CONUS for a live—fire impact area, coupled with the extreme size of the Impact Area, argue against restoration and demilitarization of this region.

(2) The Gerstle River Test Site (figure I—3) is a 19,000 acre plot of ground 4 miles south of the Alaska Highway approximately 35 road miles from HQ, Cold Regions Test Center (CRTC). The CRTC has no further requirements for the Gerstle River Test Site, but does maintain surveillance over the area by direction of TECOM.

In 1970, "Operation Cleanup Alaska" was completed at Gerstle River, the last of several cleanup operations conducted since 1967. This resulted in all known suspected contaminated material being consolidated into two burial pits. This material was decontaminated and covered. The pits are currently enclosed with barbed wire and marked with warning signs.

(3) The Delta Creek area, adjacent to the USAF Bombing Range, was used for biological agent testing from 1963 through 1967. After testing was terminated, extensive ecological field studies were conducted to assure that all biological materials were detoxified.

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c. Mission

U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command Regulation 10-1, dated 19 June 1973, with changes, assigns the following mission to the U.S7 Army Cold Regions Test Center (CRTC):

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d. History

1) Organization

Fort Greely, Alaska Wing, Air Transport Command, Big Delta, Alaska, was first occupied by Army Troops in 1942. At the time, Fort Greely was known as Station No. 17. From 1942 until 1945, it served as a staging area for aircraft being ferried to Russia under the lend/lease agreement. In 1947, it was designated as the site for Exercise YUKON, which was held during the winter of 1947-48. In November 1948, it became the Arctic Training Center. On 1 July 1949, it was redesignated as the Army Arctic Training Center. In 1953, the site was redesignated as Fort Greely and a permanent post was constructed.

In 1949, the Department of the Army ordered the organization of the Arctic Test Branch at Big Delta Air Force Base (now Fort Greely), Alaska. A cadre for the organization was activated at Fort Knox, Kentucky, in March of 1949, and comprised personnel from each of the Army Field Force Boards. In 1957, it was renamed the U.S. Army Arctic Test Board, with the mission of conducting Arctic Service Tests of all Army Field equipment.

In 1962, as a result of the reorganization of the Army, the Arctic Test Board was established as a class II activity at Fort Greely, Alaska, and placed under the command of the U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Commander. It was expanded to absorb the Research and Development Office, Alaska, and the Technical Service Test Activities, both located at Fort Wainwright, and the Chemical Corps Test Activity, Fort Greely. With the expansion came the additional mission of conducting engineering type tests, to include integrated engineering-service tests. This expansion required an organizational realignment and a greater instrumentation capability.

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On 1 March 1964, the U.S. Army Arctic Test Board was redesignated the U.S. Army Arctic Test Center. During 1966, the General Equipment Test Branch located at Fort Wainwright was absorbed by the Nuclear, Biological, Chemical, and Special Projects Division at Fort Greely.

Since 1966, the Center has undergone several organizational realignments, the last occurring in April 1973, which place it in its present configuration. Figure I-4 depicts the most recent Organizational Chart for Fort Greely. On 1 July 1976, the U.S. Army Arctic Test Center was redesignated the U.S. Army Cold Regions Test Center.

(2) Land Usage

(a) Fort Greely Reservation. The original tract of land was acquired on 30 October 1943 by the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) (then known as the Civil Aviation Agency) as Air Navigation site 162. The acquisition was for 3,920 acres, known as Big Delta Army Base. The Army had use of the area except for a small portion of the northwest corner, which was utilized by the FAA as a radio station. That radio station is still in use. Subsequent to the above acquisition, 10,543 acres of adjacent land were acquired by use permit from the Department of the Interior; this area was later made a permanent addition in 1944. In 1955, 160 acres east of the above-mentioned land were added. This tract is designated as an Ammunition Storage Area. In 1961, an area of 572,000 acres was reserved for use as a maneuver area; this area is also utilized as a test site by the U.S. Army Cold Regions Test Center. The area between Main Post and Granite Creek (51,590 acres) was added in 1961, and an area of 640 acres adjacent to the Midas Satellite Tracking Site was added in 1963.

(b) Gerstle River Test Site. The Gerstle River Test Site, acquired by the U.S. Army in 1952 for an indefinite period, was used by Dugway Proving Ground for chemical and high-explosive testing from 1954 to 1962. Surveillance testing of chemical munitions was conducted in the area from 1962 to 1967 by the Arctic Test Center. Since 1967, no chemical munitions (except flame) have been tested in the area. An area of 78,548 acres, known as the Gerstle River Expansion Area, was granted by State of Alaska leases. This "Expansion Area" and associated acreage was relinquished to the State upon lease termination in June 1970.

(c) Black Rapids Training Site. The Black Rapids Training Site is made up of 3,807 acres, which were granted by Public Law. All of the above land is utilized for training purposes by the Northern Warfare Training Center.

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(d) Total Acreage of Fort Greely Installation. As of December 1974, the total acreage encompassed by the installation is 661,814 acres .

5. Environmental Setting

a. Water Quality

(1) Surface Water

The Tanana River and its tributaries form the major drainage system in the vicinity of Fort Greely and the Gerstle River Test Site. Tributaries to the Tanana River include the Delta River and its tributary Jarvis Creek, Delta Creek, Little Delta River, and Gerstle River. Figure I-5 shows the position of these streams except Delta Creek and Little Delta River, both of which lie west of the area shown in the figure. The tributary streams originate from glaciers in the Alaska Range and flow in a northerly direction until they empty into the Tanana River. Segments of these streams have a braided character which consists of several small interconnecting channels within their outer banks. The surface drainage from Fort Greely proper and the Gerstle River Test Site are independent of each other until the Tanana River is reached.

The surface water in the Gerstle River Test Site includes Gerstle River, Sawmill Creek, and several other creeks and lakes (figure 1-6). The creeks originate in the Granite Mountains and flow through the Test Site in a northerly direction and empty into a low lying area north of the Site where they terminate. The major stream near the Test Site is Gerstle River which originates from Gerst1e glacier in the Alaskan Range some 17 miles southwest of the Site. This river flows in a northeast direction forming the southeast border of the Site and empties into the Tanana River, 20 miles north of the Site. Only a very minor quantity of surface runoff enters the Gerstle River from the Site. Several elliptical, shallow ponds and lakes are located in the southeastern portion of the Site. The annual precipitation is between 10 and 12 inches per year. Because of the extremely cold temperatures during most of the year, the drainageways carry water only during the summer months.

(2) Groundwater

The coarse-grained glacial material that underlies Fort Greely provides an excellent source for groundwater. Fort Greely proper receives its water from wells drilled 198 to 400 feet into this material. Well No. 2, near the Allen Airfield, was drilled to 198 feet and the water table was encountered at 184 feet. Data shows that the water table at the

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Nuclear Power Plant varied from 187 to 212 feet below the surface. West of the Richardson Highway, water was encountered at 135 feet in the Beales Firing Range. Generally, the saturated zones consist of gravels and sands.

The water level in one boring at the G erst1e River Test Site is at 453 feet below the ground surface. The producing aquifer occurs between depths of 468 to 472 feet in a sandy gravel. The total depth of this well is 549 feet. Additional water level data are presented in table I-1.

b. Fauna and Flora

(1) Fauna

The major animal species which occur at Fort Greely are moose, caribou, buffalo, black and grizzly bear, wolf, wolverine, muskrat, marten, snowshoe hare, beaver, fox, lynx, red squirrel, and ground squirrel. Fish species include lake trout, silver salmon, grayling, northern longnose suckers, and rainbow trout.

There are over 50,000 acres of lakes with the installation; most of these lakes are small (8 to 20 acres) and inhabited only by suckers. However, there are eight lakes, comprising 291 acres, that are easily accessible to civilian automobiles; these lakes are stocked every other year with lake trout, rainbow trout, silver salmon, and grayling.

Alaska is located on the Atlantic flyway. The numbers and species of birds migrating to and from Alaska are numerous.

A list of the fish, mammals, and birds of Fort Greely is provided in Appendix D.

Hunting is not allowed at Fort Greely. The entire post, with the post cantonment and areas immediately adjacent to roads and recreational lakes, is not open to general hunting and trapping.

(2) Flora

(a) Native Vegetation. Fort Greely lies wholly within the boreal forest, which is one of the three broad classifications of vegetation (tundra flora, boreal forest, and coastal forest) covering the state. The boreal forest of Fort Greely is a thin forest, predominately white and black spruce trees (Picea glauca and Picea mariana). Intermixed with the spruce are birch (Betula papyrifera), quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides), balsam poplar (Populus balsamifera), and tamarack (Larix

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Table I-1. Water Level Data

WELL NO.

LOCATION

TOTAL
DEPTH
(FEET)

WATER
LEVEL
(FEET)

 

REMARKS

1

Fort Greely Building 131

235

186

2

137

198

184

3

G 153

200

132

4

117

215

178

Permafrost at
24-88; 96-108
feet

5

329

220

198

6

300

218

182

Permafrost at 40-118 feet

7

370

200

-

8

625

400

215

9

606

270

197

10 SM-lA

Fort Greely Nuclear Plant

*329

199

11 SM-lA

Fort Greely Nuclear Plant

*332

201

12 SM-lA

Fort Greely Nuclear Plant

*304

198

13

Dilution Building

248

187

14

Contractors Well

252

212

15

Beales Range

*165

135

16

Bolio Lake

300

242

17

Gerstle River Test Site

549

453

18

Tank Range

320

242

*Casing depth

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laricina). Generally, aspen grows on well-drained sandy or gravelly soils; white birch is most conspicuous on well-drained south-facing slopes; and spruce, often with an intermixture of birch and tamarack, grows on poorly-drained areas.

Dwarf heath shrubs especially in e birch family, are the dominant understory in the boreal forest. Mosses and lichens form the ground cover, along with cranberry and snowberry bushes. In places, sphagnum moss and horsetail are dense. Willow and alder shrubs are dominant in poorly drained areas.

(b) Agricultural Crops. The agricultural crops of the area include grasses, legumes, small grains, fruits, and vegetable, as follows:

Grasses Legumes Vegetables
Brome grass
Timothy
Bluegrass
Red fescue
Meadow foxtail
Ryegrass
Orchardgrass
Reed canarygrass
Clover Potatoes
Carrots
Cabbage
Lettuce
Radishes
Cauliflower
Broccoli
Brussel sprouts
Peas
Spinach
Rutabagas
Turnips
Endive
Green onions
Squash
Beets
Green beans
Small Grains
Barley
Oats
Wheat
Small Fruits
Raspberries
Strawberries
Currants

(c) Planted Areas. There are no cemeteries or maintained golf courses on Fort Greely. However, the lawns, parade grounds, and athletic fields have been planted with Kentucky Bluegrass, Nugget Bluegrass, and Artca Red Fescue. These areas are maintained with scheduled fertilizing, irrigation; and mowing throughout the summer months and have become attractive, well-established lawns.

Earth-covered ammunition storage magazines are overgrown with natural grasses, Kentucky Bluegrass, Nugget Bluegrass, and Artca Red Fescue. The goal is to camouflage the nature of the facility from aerial observation and four or five more years of undisturbed growth will complete the program.

About 90 acres of the Buffalo Drop Zone were planted two years ago with barley, oats, brome, and fescue to provide a feeding ground for the Delta bison herd, which resided predominately on Fort Greely. The drop zone itself is over 1,000 acres in extent, but the seeded area

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served to attract many buffalo and thus keep them out of local farmers’ fields. Some brome and fescue still grow there, but a new planting of all four varieties is anticipated for 1976 or 1977, depending upon budget limitations .

Trees planted as a part of the landscape Planting Program are restricted to local indigenous species and include paper birch, white spruce, quaking aspen, and a variety of willows. Shrubs include Siberian pea shrub, wild rose, American red currant, and western dogwood.

No ground cover plants or vines are planned, although family housing occupants are encouraged to plant snowberry, cranberries, and blueberries on their own initiative. These and other edible ground cover species are locally available in the forest and hills.

The Landscape Planting Program is about 12 percent complete, with 75 of a scheduled 600 trees planted. The target date for completion is 22 October 1978. The program involves all of the main post cantonment, including family housing office and industrial buildings, troop areas, school grounds, and public use areas. Initial construction of the cantonment left no vegetation whatsoever so that the combination of the Landscape Planting Program and the plants established by families and troop units has made a great improvement.

The major portion of the post is classed as virgin taiga and no improvements are anticipated outside of erosion control plantings. Over 600,000 acres are involved, most of it being utilized for troop maneuvers and artillery ranges.

Appendixes E and F provide more information on the flora of the area.

c. Geology

(1) Physiography and Topography

Physiographic units in the region are the Alaskan Range, Tanana Lowlands, and the Yukon-Tanana Uplands (figure I-7). Fort Greely and the Gerstle River Test Site lie in the Tanana Lowlands except for a small area of the Test Site that falls in the Granite Mountain which is a part of the Alaskan Range. The lowlands are an elongated province that trends in a northwest-southeast direction and lies between the Alaskan Range to the south and the Yukon Uplands to the north. The lowlands in the vicinity of Fort Greely are characterized by flat to undulating glacial and alluvial landforms .

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Glacial landforms include outwash plains and moraines; the alluvial landforms are flood plains, terraces, and aprons. The elevation at Allen Airfield in the northern portion of Fort Greely is approximately 1200 feet above mean sea level (msl), while some 13 miles to the south the elevation reaches 1600 to 1800 feet in the vicinity of Donnelly Dome.

The Gerstle River Test Site, approximately 25 miles southeast of Allen Airfield, parallels the Alaskan Highway and consists predominately of alluvial aprons, moraines, and stream deposits. The overall slope is to the northwest ad varies in elevation between 1260 and 2000 feet. The western portion of the Site lies in the Granite Mountains. These mountains exhibit steep slopes with elevations r aching 3500 feet.

(2) Geologic Formations

Geologic units within Fort Greely include (from oldest to youngest) the Birch Creek schist (Precambrian), granodiorite (late Mesozoic), Jarvis coal beds (Tertiary), till outwash and loess (Pleistocene), and recent alluvium, terraces, and fans.

The Birch Creek schist is predominately a quartz-sericitic schist, locally containing layers of quartzite and black carbonaceous schist. The schist is exposed along the southern edge of West Donnelly and on Donnelly Dome, 15 miles south of Allen Airfield. The gray granodiorite outcrops extensively in the Granite Mountains and is a coarse-grained igneous rock consisting of quartz, feldspar, biotite, and hornblende. The Tertiary sediments include clay, sand, shale, coal, conglomerate, and outcrops on the west slope of West Donnelly. Quaternary deposits cover the remaining area of Fort Greely. These deposits consist of Donnelly and Delta till and outwash which were deposited during Pleistocene time. A discontinuous mantle of loess covers the glacial deposits. Recent alluvial deposits occur in the flood plains and Pleistocene terraces, along some of the streams and fans that join the mountains and hills.

Geologic units within the Gerstle River Test Site include a small area of Mesozoic granitic intrusives; the remaining area consists of Quaternary sands, silts, and gravels (figure I-8). The granitic intrusives include quartz, feldspar, biotite, and hornblende as described above. The Quaternary deposits are divided into two units based on origin and method of deposition. The smaller of the two units in a real

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extent consists of small moraines resulting from the relatively short advance of the ice streams from the mountains. Moraine and till deposits are characteristic of these areas. The larger unit consists of recent alluvial unconsolidated material and gravel.

(3) Soils

No published soils data are available for the Gerstle River Test Site; however, from the reconnaissance and the published soils data west of the Test Site, the soils are believed to be similar over the Test Site. Sand, silt, and gravel constitute the major soil type. A thin cover of organic silt occurs in the area with the silt increasing in depth around the lakes and bogs. Sands, gravels, and silts (unit 1, figure I-8) are old stream and lake deposits that have been reworked by the action of younger streams. Included in these areas (unit 1) are the sands, gravels, and angular rock fragments from the till and outwash from the mountains. The morainal areas (unit 2, figure I-8) consist of moderately weathered yellow-gray sandy clays and silts with angular to rounded rock fragments. The percentage and size of rock fragments tend to increase toward the mountains. The granitic intrusive areas (unit 3, figure I-8) occur in the Granite Mountains where a thin veneer of soil is disrupted by rock outcrops.

Driller’s logs indicate that the subsurface materials under the main post of Fort Greely and just west of the Richardson Highway are layers of sands, silts, and gravels and various mixtures of these soils. Layer thicknesses and soil types are variable. Only one well log (boring 17) was obtained for the Gerstle River Test Site. This log indicates that the zone between 145 and 160 feet consists of silty sand and sand while the remainder of the hole (549 feet) consists of gravel with varying amounts of silt and sand. Boring locations are shown in figure I-9 and the available logs for Fort Greely and the Gerstle River Test Site are presented in table 1-2.

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Table I-2 Drilling Logs

Boring
N0.
Depth
(FT)
Description
Boring
N0.
Depth
(FT)
Description
4
0-10
Sand and Gravel
8 cont.
310-315
No Data
 
10-40
Sand, Gravel and boulders
 
315-330
Silt, sand, and gravel, dirty w/few large boulders
 
40-88
Sand and Gravel
 
330-335
No Data
 
88-96
Red sand, very soft, unfrozen
 
335-350
Silt sand and gravel, compact
 
96-122
Sand and Gravel
 
350-390
Sand and Gravel (355-385 semi water-bearing)
 
122-128
Red sand and small gravel
 
390-395
Gravel, sand, and silt, compact
 
128-143
Grey sand and gravel, soft
 
395
Coarse gravel and sand, good flow of water
 
145-175
Red sand and gravel
9
0-15
Gravel
 
175-185
Fine sand and gravel,water bearing
 
15-25
No Data
 
185-195
Coarse sand and gravel
 
25-40
Gravel, sand, and sandy silt
 
195-203
Sand and small gravel
 
40-50
No Data
 
203-214
Coarse sand and gravel
 
50-60
Sand and gravel
6
0-110
Sand and Gravel
 
60-70
No Data
 
110-125
Sand and Gravel - air pocket at 118 ft
 
70-90
Dirty gravel and sand
 
125-145
Sand and Gravel
 
90-99
Clay, silty gravel
 
145-175
Sand and Gravel - water at 158 ft
 
99-140
Clay gravel
 
175-218
Sand and Gravel
 
140-150
Clay gravel, compact
8
0-5
Topsoil
 
150-170
Clay gravel, gravel and silt
 
5-150
Gravel and silt
 
170-180
Clay gravel, compact
 
150-160
Gravel and silt, permafrost gas
 
180-190
Clay gravel, gravel and silt
 
160-280
Gravel and silt
 
190-200
Clay gravel, gravel, silt, and sand
 
280-299
Gravel, very high silt content
 
200-210
Clay gravel, gravel, silt, sand, compact
 
299-300
Gravel, dirty
 
210-213
Silt, sand and gravel
 
300-305
No Data
 
 
305-310
Silt, sand, and gravel, dirty

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Boring
N0.
Depth
(FT)
Description
Boring
N0.
Depth
(FT)
Description
9 cont
213-224
Medium coarse sand and gravel, low silt content (water-bearing), cemented
17 cont
80-104
Silty sandy gravel, few boulders
 
224-229
Sand and gravel silt, water-bearing water level 197 ft
 
104-145
Silty sandy gravel w/few boulders, small amount of water below permafrost at 122 ft
 
229-234
Clay, gravel, sand and silt
 
145-156
Silty sand
 
234-239
Gravel, sand, and silt, cemented
 
156-160
Sand
 
239-244
Sand, silt and gravel
 
160-468
Silty sandy gravel w/cobbles and boulders
 
244-250
Cemented gravel and sand
 
468-472
Sandy gravel, water-bearing
 
250-255
Cemented gravel and sand, coarse
 
472-549
Silty sandy gravel grading into sandy gravel
 
255-260
Cemented silt, sand, little gravel
18
0-25
Sandy gravel and boulders
 
260-270
Gravel and sand
(Drilled
25-35
Gravelly sand
15
0-2.5
Silt
4 May
35-45
Gravelly  sand with boulders
 
2.5-6
Silty gravelly sand, scattered cobbles
to
45-50
Sand and gravel, saturated
 
6-34
Sandy gravel to gravelly sand to sand
30 June
50-85
Grey till
 
34-48
Silty gravelly sand, compact
1962)
85-100
Tan and Grey tills
 
48-53
Sand, with fine pebbles
 
100-110
Tills
 
53-69
Sandy gravel to gravelly sand, max 5 inch
 
110-115
Show of water, 5 ft hd, dirty formations
 
69-100
Silty gravelly sand to gravelly sandy silt
 
115-150
Tan and Grey tills with gravel
 
Remainder of depths not legible on driller's log, Total depth 300 ft.
Material is generally the same as above.
 
150-165
Olive-Drab till
16
Data not legible above 200 ft.
 
165-200
Light brown silty
 
246-272
Silty sand, some gravel
 
200-225
Sand with some fine gravel in streaks
 
272-300
Gravelly sand
 
225-255
Light brown silty sand with streaks of coarser gravel
17
0-2
Silt
 
255-280
Light brown silty sand, water-saturated, occasional streaks of gravel
 
2-68
Silty sandy gravel, few cobbles
 
280-300
As above, more gravel and more water
 
68-80
Sandy gravel
 
300-322
Sand and gravel, aquifer Gravel 2-inch maximum size

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II. CONTAMINATION ASSESSMENT

1. Mission and Tenant Activities

a. Test Facilities

In 1954, Dugway Proving Ground (DPG) initiated a comprehensive program for the surveillance testing of chemical and biological materials in the five major environments. The Gerstle River Test Site, located approximately 30 miles south of Fort Greely, Alaska, was established as the Arctic Test Site. A chemical testing facility was constructed at Gerstle River Test Site (figure II-1) to accommodate the environmental surveillance testing and dissemination testing of chemical munitions. This structure was also utilized as a command post and security post and has had at least one guard posted around the clock since its construction. A chemical Arctic Test Activity was established at Fort Greely in 1956 as a class II activity which reported directly to DPG. This activity consisted of two officers and twenty-five enlisted personnel. In 1964, this activity was designated the U.S. Army Arctic Test Center. In July 1976, the Arctic Test Center was redesignated the U.S. Army Cold Regions Test Center.

b. Field Test Sites

(1) Gerstle River

From 1954 to 1962, a comprehensive Arctic Environmental! Surveillance Program on Chemical Corps material was conducted at the Gerstle River Army Test Site. Limited cold weather dissemination testing of GB and VX was conducted in this area. Single round, statically fired GB-filled munitions were tested in the winters of 1955-56 and 1956-57. Six trials of VX-filled M23 mines were conducted in the winter of 1960-61; each trial consisted of statically functioning one VX-filled mine and one simulant filled mine to test dispersion characteristics in an Arctic environment.

When the U.S. Army was reorganized in 1962, USATECOM was assigned the responsibility for the conduct of the CB Long Term Environmental/Surveillance Program. The Chemical Arctic Test Activity at. Fort Greely then become a division of the Arctic Test Center; DPG was designated by USATECOM as the monitoring agency for the conduct of this program.

In 1962, the Deseret Test Center (DTC) was established with headquarters in Fort Douglas, Utah; DTC initiated field testing at the Gerstle River Army Test Site in December 1962. Liaison was achieved and maintained with Commander in Chief, Alaska, United States Army, Alaska, Fort Greely. Arctic Test Center; and the state of Alaska Fish and Game Department.

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Testing was conducted by DTC in three general areas at Fort Greely: (1) the Gerstle River Army Test Site, (2) the expanded Gerstle River Test Site, and (3) the Delta Creek area. Table II-1 lists the tests that were performed by DTC at the Gerstle River areas and figure II-2 depicts the test locations.

The majority of testing at the Gerstle River Army Test Site was with single round, statically fired, chemical munitions. However, GB-filled 155mm howitzer shells were dynamically fired into spruce forests (depicted as grid location 8, figure II-2). Simulant-filled and HE 155mm howitzer shells were also fired to spruce and aspen forests (grid locations 8A, SB, and 9A, figure II-2) to determine height of burst information for planning for Devil Hole I and II. The only dud/malfunctioned munition that was reported in all of the DTC testing conducted at Gerstle River test areas was on this program; the unlocated dud was a dynamically fired M107 155mm HE shell fired 28 August 1964. This was on the high angle height of burst test in an aspen forest at grid location 9A vicinity. Significantly, all of the test grids at the Gerstle River Test Site have been sampled and declared free of residual agent hazard. Residual test munitions have been disposed of and the munitions holding areas have been completely cleared.

Several large scale trials were conducted in the expanded Gerstle River Test Site at grid locations 9, 10 (aspen grid location), and 11 (spruce grid location).

Statically and dynamically fired agent GB munition dissemination trials were conducted in the large aspen forest at grid location 9; included were some trials using dynamically fired GB-filled 155mm howitzer shells. Agent VX trials were conducted (July 1966) at grid locations 10 and 11; also included were dynamically fired 155mm howitzer trials at grid location 10.

(2) Delta Creek

Although not located within the Gerstle River test area, the Delta Creek area was utilized by DTC during the 1963-67 period to conduct biological testing (table II-2).

The Delta Creek area (grid locations 13, 14, 15, and 16, figure II-3) was carefully selected for the biological dissemination trial outlined in table II-2. Extensive meteorological and ecological field studies and surveys were conducted in order to prove that the program could be conducted safely. The test site was the actual river bed of Delta Creek (figure 11-4) in the most physically isolated and inaccessible part of the

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Table II-1. Chemical Tests (Gerstle River)

Number
and Test
Date
Munition
Number
of Trials
Total Agent
Location
on Maps
63-3
Whistle Down
6 Dec 62-
5 Feb 63
M23 Land Mine VX
M121A-1 155mm How GB
M55 Rocket GB
M55 Rocket GB
5
5
5
1
5 Mines, 26 kg
5 Projectiles, 14.5 kg
5 Rockets, 26 kg
1 Rocket, 5.2 kg
1
2
2
1
65-14
Elk Hunt I
3 Jul-
15 Aug 64
M23 Land Mine VX
M23 Land Mine VX
M23 Land Mine VX modified
M23 Land Mine VX
M23 Land Mine std & mod VX
2
5
5
5
3
16 mines, 83.2 kg
40 mines, 208 kg
40 mines, 194 kg
40 mines, 208 kg
6 mines mod 29 kg
6 mines std 31 kg
3 grass
4 shrub
4 shrub
5 wooded 6 water (temporary water hole)
Devil Hole
Prelim HOB
24 Aug-
28 Aug 64
M121A-1 155mm How Simulant
M107 155mm How HE
M107 155mm How HE
M107 155mm How HE
M121A-1 155mm How Simulant
M107 155mm How HE
M107 155mm How HE
M107 155mm How HE
10
39
23
28
9
25
25
25
 
8B, 911-740
8B, 911-740
8A, 907-723
8A, 907-723
9A, 890-796
9A, 890-796
9A, 890-797
9A, 893-795
65-14
Elk Hunt II
7 Jun-
29 Jul 65
M23 Land Mine, VX (various combinations of bangalore torpedos and line charges)
M23 Land Mine, VX (various combinations of bangalore torpedos and line charges)
M23 Land Mine, VX (various combinations of bangalore torpedos and line charges)
13

10

12
64 mines, 333 kg

80 Mines, 416 kg

14 Mines, 73 kg
3 dead grass

4 Shrub

7 vehicles, 2 on cleared ground
63-12
Devil Hole I
2 Jul-
8 Sep 65
M121-1 Shell, 155 How GB
M121-1 Shell, 155 How GB
M55 Rocket, GB
35
27
16
24 dynamic and 26 static shells (50 kg)
23 dynamic and 18 static shells (123  kg)
16 Shells, 83 kg

9 Aspen
9 Aspen

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Table II-1. Chemical Tests (Gerstle River) - Continued

Number
and Test
Date
Munition
Number
of Trials
Total Agent
Location
on Maps
65-11
Sundown
21 Jan-
Apr 66
BLU 19/B23 GB
20
20 Bombs, 40 kg
8
66-3
Swamp Oak
21 Jan-
8 Apr 66
M121A-1 Shell, GB
34
34 Shells, 102 kg
8
66-1
Devil Hole II
28 Jul-
12 Sep 66
M426 8" How VX
M121A-1, 155mm How VX


M121A-1, 155mm How VX
10
46


22
10 Shells, 65 kg
24 Dynamic and 22 static shells, 138 kg

22 Shells, 66 kg
10 Aspen
10


11 Spruce
67-2
Dew Point
14 Jul-
14 Sep 67
BLU 19/B23 Bomblet, GB
M139 Bomblet, GB
30
30
30 bombs, 59 kg
30 bombs, 18 kg
9
9

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Biological Tests (Delta Creek)

Number
and Test
Date
Munition
Number
of Trials
Total Agent
Location
on Maps
64-5
Night Train
1 Dec 63-
8 Jan 64
A/B 45Y-1 Spray Tank,
BG-1,  F100 and F105, simulant
18
4
1188 kg
21 kg
12
12
65-3
West Side 1
8 Jan-
23 Feb 65
A/B 45Y Spray Tank,
BG-2, F105, simulant
A/B 45Y-1 Spray Tank,
BG-1, F105, simulant
22
8
236 kg
653 kg
13
13 tower fly by
Special Study
Alaska
1 Oct-
10 Dec 65
E26 Dispenser, LVS, simulant
*E26 Dispenser, SM
*E26 Dispenser, EC
*E26 Dispenser, SM (BG-1 intimately mixed on all trials)
6
6
6
6
42 liters
42 liters
42 liters
42 liters
96 liters
14 forest
14 forest
14 forest
15 river bed
67-7
Rev.Cloud
7 Dec 66
19 Feb 67
M32 Disseminator, ZZ, BG-2
M143 Bomblet, TT
E26 Dispenser, TT
                             BG
*E26 Dispenser, EC
                               BG
*E26 Dispenser, SM
                             BG
8
12
16
6
11
22 kg
22 kg
3 liters
256 liters
96 liters
96 liters
196 liters
196 liters
16
16
16
16
16

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Biological Tests (Delta Creek) - Continued

Number
and Test
Date
Munition
Number
of Trials
Total Agent
Location
on Maps
67-8
Watch Dog
19 Jun-
25 Aug 67
E26 Dispenser, TT
                             BG-1
E32 Disseminator, ZZ
                                   BG-2
*E26 Dispenser, EC
                               BG-1
*E26 Dispenser, SM
                               BG-1
E26 Dispenser, TT
                             BG-1
*E26 Dispenser, EC
                               BG-1
11
8
8
10
6
4
77 liters
11 liters
37 kg
37 kg
48 liters
16 liters
48 liters
16 liters
12 liters
4 liters
24 liters
  8 liters
16
16
16
16
14 forest
14 forest
* Classically these are considered simulants, but recent information from Center for Disease Control Atlanta, GA has implicated SM and EG as potential infectious agents. These agents can cause secondary infections among hospitalized personnel.

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Fort Greely Military Reservation. A specially constructed high floatation D-8 caterpillar was used to build a runway on a long gravel bar near the Command Post and all transportation for the activity in the Delta Creek area was by fixed wing and helicopter support.

c. Storage of Chemicals

There. are no chemical or biological materials stored at U.S. Army Gerstle River Test Site or on Fort Greely property . All materials were removed from Alaska by 1969/1970, the last major cleanup being Blueberry Lake on the Gerstle River Test Site.

2. Decontamination Operations

a. Gerstle River

At the conclusion of the VX trials in the Gerstle River test area, selected test equipment was decontaminated and returned to stock; however, most of the contaminated equipment was left on the grids for two years for decontamination weathering. A cleanup operation was conducted in September 1968 to remove the material from the grids and bury it in a large refuse pit (figure II—5). This pit was located in the Command Post area near the test refuse pit. For collection of the debris associated with large - scale test operations in each remote location, a refuse pit was normally dug in the Command Post (CP) area. Both daily refuse (e.g., uncontaminated garbage) and test refuse were collected in this pit, burned regularly and then covered. Contaminated material was decontaminated as thoroughly as possible before it was placed In the pit. On VX trials, the debris included housekeeping trash, used gas mask canisters, defective or damaged protective clothing, defective or damaged field/laboratory equipment, and reagents. Test debris and trash such as canvas, rope, wood, plastic, rubber, and wire were also placed in the refuse pits.

Blueberry Lake (figure II—9) became a controversial subject during the 1969/1970 period and to date is a sensitive issue.* In the winter of 1965, a number of chemical munitions were stored on the ice of Blueberry Lake for ultimate disposal during the same year. For unknown reasons, the shells were neglected and finally sank to the bottom of the lake during the spring thaw. The incident became known sometime in 1969 and DTC assisted ATC in a project to remove the shells from the bottom of the lake.

* Blueberry Lake is actually a small catch basin rather than a lake; it measures 1000 feet in diameter and has no inlet or exit streams. The water in the basin is derived from small spring action in the area and runoff from the melting snow.

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The lake project was started in May 1969. A 350 gallon per minute (gpm) centrifugal pump with 850 feet of 6-inch pipe and 60 feet of 4-inch pipe was used to drain the lake. The water was pumped over a small rise into another small lake west of Blueberry Lake. The water was analyzed and found to be uncontaminated. The existence of frogs, snails, and ducks in and around the lake added credibility to the water analysis.

Approximately 800,000 gallons of water were pumped from the lake before the first items were discovered (figure II-10). After drainage, the lake bottom was cleared. All recovered items were decontaminated, burned, and buried in the two selected disposal pits on Gerstle River Test Site. The mine sweeping (figure II-11) method gave a high assurance that all metal items located to a depth of 3 to 4 feet below the lake bottom had been removed. Table 11-3 is a list of types and quantities of items recovered from Blueberry Lake. All munitions removed from the lake were demilitarized at site (figure II-12).

A joint Arctic Test Center/Deseret Test Center (ATC/DTC) cleanup operation (Appendix G) was conducted during the period of 13 August to 8 September 1970 to remove all residue in two pits on permanent federal property. Removal of residue from the leased land was given top priority. At grids 10 and 11 of the leased land, located near milepost laterial 1402, two pits were opened, grids were removed, towers were dismantled, and residue from the CP area was hauled to the Gerstle River Test Site receiving pit (figure II-6).

One hundred and sixty-three 5-ton dump truckloads of dirt plus refuse material (using the military standard 5-ton dump truck) were hauled from the pits to the receiving pit area at Gerstle River Test Site.

Sixteen 1-ton and four 5-ton loads of debris were taken f from the ground surface at the CP (spruce and aspen grids), and from the tower launch site. Most of this material. consisted of wood stakes that were used to identify the sampling and instrumentation grids.

In grid 9 of leased land located off milepost lateral 1408, three pits were opened and debris removed to the new receiving pits at the Gerstle River Test Site. In addition, surface debris was also moved to the new pits. Fifty-five 5-ton dump truckloads of material were removed from the grid 9 area. Pits in grids 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 (Elk Hunt l and II), located in U.S. Army Gerstle River Test Site, were also opened and the material removed to the new pits. One hundred and thirty 5-ton loads of test residue were removed from the Elk Hunt I and 11 CP pits, and 281-ton loads of surface debris were removed to the central receiving pit.

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Grid 8 (Devil Hole, program 126; Swamp Oak, program 125; and Sundown, program 203) contained three pits in addition to a quantity of surface test residue. During the cleanup of this area, three live munitions were found and destroyed. sixteen loads of material were removed from the area by M113 tracked vehicles an d transferred to receiving pits.

Presently there are two burial pits located on Government property at the Gerstle River Test Site. One pit measuring approximately 80 by 160 yards is located 1 1/4 miles northwest from the Chemical Testing Facility or Gerstle River CP (figure II-7). The other pit measuring 100 yards long by 125 yards wide is located 50 yards east of Blueberry Lake (figure II-8). These two pits contain all of the residue and debris gathered from old disposal areas located throughout the 97,574 acres of the Gerstle River Test Site. Appendix H is a copy of the TECOM "After Action Report of Relocation of Scrap Material at Gerstle River, Alaska," dated September 1971.

b. Delta Creek

After the successful completion of the testing outlined in table II-2, most of the test facilities and equipment were left on site for subsequent tests. When these tests were cancelled, extensive cleanup operations were conducted. The area was policed and all material was placed in a pit measuring 100 feet long by 20 feet wide by 12 feet deep located on the Caribou site (near Jamesway Building, figure II-4).

Ecological field studies were continued long after testing was terminated to assure that there had been no adverse impact to the area

An overflight of the area has revealed that a few 55-gallon drums are still scattered throughout the area. Although this is not contaminated material, the Commander, U.S. Army Cold Regions Test Center. stated that the remaining. drums would be airlifted from the Delta Creek test area and the area policed.

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Table II-3. Items Recovered and Demilitarized

from Bottom of Blueberry Lake

l05mm Projectile (GB)

Quantity: 44

Lot No. SRN 66006-1-30
Serial Numbers: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14,
15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25,
26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36,
37, 38, 39 40, 42, 43, 44, 46, 48
(1-48 less numbers 10, 41, 45 and 47)

M55 Rockets (GB)

Quantity: 3
Lot No. 4012-32-15A NTV 62
Serial No. None

155mm Projectile (GB) (No Serial Numbers)
a. Lot No. 5617-19-1 (Modified with valve and gauge) .Quantity: 91
b. Lot No. 6617-26-1
    Quantity 58
c. Lot No. 1031-32-11-1
    Quantity: 3
d. Lot No. Unknown (Casings badly rusted)
    Quantity: 5
GA Cylinder: G8-T7-Nl
HD Cylinder: No lot number
M55 Rockets (No Serial Numbers)
a. Quantity: 5
    Lot No. 4017-23-114
    Agent: VX
b. Quantity: 4
    Lot No. 4017-23-114
    Agent: GB
c. Quantity: 4
    Lot No. 2011-25-276
    Agent: VX
d. Quantity: 2
    Lot No. 1033-43- 160
    Agent: GB

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3. Installation Land Use Factors

a. Erosion Control

Because of the flat terrain at Fort Greely, the low precipitation in the area and the porosity of the basic soil, erosion is not a major problem at Fort Greely. The lack of erosion problems is explained in part by the fact that the land on which the cantonment is situated is quite flat, also the cantonment is quite small.

Some stream-bed erosion control assistance to the nearby community is occasionally required when Jarvis Creek overflows it’s banks in the spring, but this is not a yearly occurrence. Likewise, on the Delta River adjacent to the artillery ranges, similar occasional bulldozing of small levees is sometimes necessary.

Fort Greely has no major problems with erosion on watercourses; however, occasionally. there is minor runoff erosion on the ski slopes.

The only area requiring a small amount of yearly effort in seeding to grass is on the Black Rapids ski slopes where minor erosion occurs. Annual reseeding and fertilizing are utilized to maintain these slopes and occasionally sod plugs may be planted along a small gully. With the care the slopes receive, the gullies that do occur do not get larger than an inch deep and an inch wide and are easily smoothed and grassed.

Throughout the year, Fort Greely is subject to an extensive amount of wind. When the ground is frozen (approximately October through April), dust control presents no problem on the post; at this time, the wind carries snow and debris. However, during the period from May through September, blowing dust is often a problem. The primary sources of the dust are river beds (Delta River and Jarvis Creek), which are generally dry during the latter summer months. The river beds are made up largely of glacial fines. Much of the wind-blown dust and sand particles are filtered out in the wooded areas between the river beds and the main post; this provides some control, especially over the larger sand particles. Although the dust is a problem, it is more of an irritation than a danger to health and welfare of the inhabitants at Fort Greely. Because of the nature of the sources and layout of the post proper, there does not appear to be any economical or practical solution to controlling the dust carried by the wind, other than maintaining screening tree cover between the sources and the main post.

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b. Trees and Shrubs

(1) Planting Plan

The Landscape Planting Plan is a separate portion of the Resources Management Plan presented in Appendix J; however, the following is a brief review of the necessity for a Landscape Planting Plan. When the main post cantonment was built in the 1950’s, the climax vegetation of white spruce and quaking aspen was completely bulldozed out. Drainage landscaping was accomplished and buildings were erected. The installation was designed to be very compact with those sections that. were likely to expand placed on the periphery. Only enough forest was removed to allow for construction with the result that the Family Housing backed up to the edge of the forest and the main street ended at the forest area. This circumstance means that should Family Housing or Big Delta Avenue have to be extended, trees which are not to be cut can be marked and an expansion of the landscape planting program can be avoided. Because this was not done when the original installation was built, the result was a collection of p Lain, square buildings separated by pavement and/or lawns without bushes, shrubs, hedges, or trees of any kind. A visitor’s impression of Fort Greely was inevitably one of bleakness, a wartime military garrison.

Before command approval of a Landscape Planting Plan was obtained, some troop units and quarters occupants had taken the initiative to plant some trees and shrubs. These few plantings made a great improvement and stimulated command support for an all-post planting program.

The current Landscape Planting Plan, as amended (Appendix J), provides for all areas of the. installation to be planted with mature trees, as many as 600 within two years. Only trees from surrounding forests will be used, and clumps and groves of these transplanted trees will be established approximating the local natural mix of white spruce and quaking aspen. These clumps and groves will be placed in all clear areas except for play areas around family housing and in public-use areas, where they may act as windbreaks and prevent the drifting of snow in parking lots, as well as make the installation a more attractive place to live. When these areas are essentially completed, trees will be placed in the vicinity of office buildings and industrial plants.

In addition to mature trees, shrubs and bushes are also being transplanted. In Appendix J is a listing of trees and shrubs being transplanted. Most: are indigenous, but some are exotic plants which do well in arctic conditions and which provide cuttings for new plants so that an initial one-time investment is all that is necessary.

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(2) Tree and Shrub Maintenance

Presently there are very few trees on the main post cantonment of Fort Greely; of those currently in place, 109 were put in during the past four years. Although a few of the trees were put in on the initiative of troop unit commander and quarters occupants, approximately 75 were put in with a hydraulic tree spade by Facilities Engineers during the past two years (as described in Appendix J).

Since trees transplanted locally are generally somewhat stunted by nature, pruning is restricted to removing dead or diseased branches and sealing the wound with tree paint. No trees are topped because, in the arctic climate, topping tends to kill the tree.

After initial fertilizing during planting, a yearly application of dry manure is made at the base of the tree. When the surrounding lawns are fertilized with 10-20-20 fertilizer, the trees also get about one half cup each.

There are no trees large enough on Fort Greely to overhang the roads nor do the aspen, birch and spruce trees, which grow here, produce much twig deadfall.

Trees which are to be removed because of death or disease are removed with the hydraulic tree spade. Depending upon the type of disease, a new tree may be placed into the same hole or nearby. If nearby, the plug taken from the new location is placed into the old hole.

Shrubs on Fort Greely are located primarily in public-use areas, as in front of the post exchange, theater, and craft shop. Before being transplanted, these shrubs were severely pruned and the wounds were sealed with tree paint. If the plant then showed minimal ill effects within two to three weeks, it was transplanted. Once growing, the shrubs are pruned yearly just after the first snowfall in October to shape them and to remove less productive parts.

c. Lawns

On lawns, parade grounds, ball fields, road shoulders, and drainageways, northern-adapted varieties of Kentucky Bluegrass, Nugget Bluegrass, and Red Fescue are planted. The fescue starts a quick soil-holding cover and is later taken over by the bluegrass varieties, forming a sound. thick rootmass. The grasses are applied at a rate of one pound 

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of grass seed per 1,000 square feet and a 10-20-20 fertilizer is applied at a rate of 10 pounds per 1,000 square feet. An average of 2,000 pounds of grass seed is used annually, about two-thirds of which is Nugget Bluegrass, which is phasing out the less hardy Kentucky Bluegrass; the other third is Red Fescue.

Areas reseeded in 1976 included the ammunition storage area, which also received plugs of sod grass, and the antenna field east of the main post.

(1) Mowing

There are approximately 363 acres of lawns, 11 acres of playing fields, and 10 acres of parade grounds on Fort Greely. Appendix J indicates the acreage mowed by different means, by land use classification. Generally, all lawns are mowed weekly; parade grounds, road shoulders, and athletic fields are mowed biweekly; and minimum-use areas such as ammunition storage areas are mowed monthly or as needed. There are no cemeteries or maintained golf courses. Firebreaks are treated with weed control chemicals which have been proved to be harmless to mammals and are cropped with a brush-cutter every other year or as needed.

A copy of grounds maintenance requirements is supplied to housing occupants through the Family Housing Office, Fort Greely. This provides instructions to quarters occupants on lawn care.

(2) Fertilizing

All lawn areas usually mowed are fertilized four times per summer, roughly on the following schedule and with the following fertilizers:

First application 6-14 May 10-20-20 (N-P-K)
Second application 2-12 June Ammonium Nitrate
Third application 6-12 July 10-20-20 (N-P-K)
Fourth application 12-18 August 10-20-20 (N-P-K)

Application rate is 10 pounds per 1,000 square feet with approximately 20 tons of 10-20-20 (N-P-K) fertilizer being used each year.

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d. Irrigation

Irrigated areas on Fort Greely include quarters lawns, playing fields, parade grounds, and plantings of trees and shrubs. Quarters occupants are responsible for watering their lawns; the units using the billets water the grass areas around troop billets. Playing fields and parade grounds are watered by Facilities Engineering personnel using a portable pipe system, while trees and shrubs are watered from a tank truck or with a hose from a building.

Starting on or about 15 May and ending in mid-September, all of these areas are watered weekly with one-half inch of water unless rain does it naturally. Thus, all areas receive at least two inches of water monthly during the spring and summer.

e. Weed and Brush Control

Very little weed and brush control is necessary on Fort Greely due to the very short three-month growing season. Where weeds do begin to take over a lawn due to lack of care by quarters occupants, the lawn may be completely retilled and reseeded. Herbicides are also used.

(1) Prescribed Burning

Burning of grass and weeds is not needed at Fort Greely as the climate does not allow the vegetation to grow enough to require it. Occasionally, vegetation on firebreaks will be disk-harrowed, or cropped, but aside from that, there is no weed or excess grass problem.

(2) Herbicides

The following problem weeds require control:

Lamb’s-quarter - Chenopodium album (Summer annual)
Large crabgrass - Digitaria sanguinalis (Summer annual)
Dandelion - Taraxacum officinale (Perennial)
Knotweed - Polygonum sp (Summer annual)

The following herbicides have been used.

(a) 2, 4-D Low Volatile Ester selective weed killer. Active ingredient 94.8 percent by volume, isooctyl ester of 2-4- Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid, 5.2 percent inert. Active ingredients are 62.88 percent by weight, or 6 pounds/gallon (lb/gal).

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(b) 2, 4, 5-T brush killer,* active ingredient 83.5 percent by volume of 2, 4, 5-Trichlorophenoxyacetic acid isooctyl ester, 16.5 percent inert. Active ingredients are 6 lb/gal.

(c) Weed killer, Alkanolamine salts (of the Ethanol and Isopropanol series) of Dinitro-o-sec-. Lylphenol, 51 percent active ingredient, 49 percent inert, 3 lb/gal active ingredient.

Sterilants have never been used on installation property.

In FY1975, approximately 400 pounds of 2, 4-D were used for control of dandelions, knotweed, and lamb’s-quarter. Approximately 750 pounds of 2, 4, 5-T were also used, primarily on firebreaks, and about 650 pounds of alkanolamine salts were used on roadsides. Brush-killer spraying was supplemented by mechanical cropping.

Approximately 380 acres are treated with 2, 4-D including lawns and parade fields for the control of broadleaf weeds. This chemical is used as a preemergent in May or April as weeds tend to come up during snow-melt. The 2, 4-D needs copious amounts of water to be effective. Normally, another application is made in late October to act over the winter. Approximately 440 acres of firebreaks and roadsides are treated with 2, 4, 5-T brush killer and alkanolamine salts with two to three applications per year.

Current regulations require that the use of all three herbicides must be reported on the monthly Pest Control Summary Report (DD Form 1532) and the Annual Installation Natural Resources Report (DA Form 2785-R). Reporting the use of pesticides by agricultural lessees is not specifically required at the present. The policy has been to report only pesticides used by the Facilities Engineer in his maintenance operations including applications by contractors. Clarification of this matter is expected in the near future and it is anticipated that all pesticides used on the installation, regardless of the user, will be reported. Appendix K lists pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides that may have to be reported when used at Fort Greely.

f. Environmental Impact Assessment

An assessment of the environmental impact caused by day to day operation of U.S. Army Cold Regions Test Center is provided in Appendix L.

*Note: 2, 4, 5-T is not authorized for use around populated areas where humans may come in contact with it.

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An assessment of the development of a bison habitat at Fort Greely is provided in Appendix F.

g. Fish and Game Resources

An agreement concerning the development and management of fish and game resources at Fort Greely is provided in Appendix M.

4. Legal Claims

In the early 1970’s, the Gerstle River Test Site at Fort Greely became a matter of controversy for Alaskan politicians in Washington, D.C. The discovery that the U.S. Army had conducted chemical and biological tests at Fort Greely initiated an intense investigation. Numerous articles appeared in local papers, federal releases, and national television accusing the U.S. Army of being responsible for the deaths of various animals in Delta Junction, Alaska, approximately 10 miles from Fort Greely. Newspaper articles also accused the U.S. Army of being responsible for the paralysis of two children in Fairbanks, Alaska, and an outbreak of tularemia in Vermont in 1968, in addition to many other accusations. There has been no evidence or scientific proof to link the Alaska tests with any of the above accusations .

Through 1972, all legal claims were handled by the SJA Office at Fort Greely. Since 1972, all Alaskan complaints have been handled by the SJA Office at Fort Richardson, Anchorage, Alaska. The SJA Office at Fort Richardson indicated that the U.S. Army has had no lawsuits or complaints filed against Fort Greely since Fort Richardson has been assigned the responsibility of handling all Alaskan legal actions. The SJA was not aware of any past lawsuits filed against the U.S. Army and stated that presently there are no litigations pending. All claims prior to 1972, if any, should be on file at either the U.S. Army Claims Service at Fort Meade, Maryland, or the Office of the Judge Advocate General (OTJAG), Litigation Division, Washington, D.C. 

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III. FINDINGS

Based on the evaluation of information available during the RIR study, the following findings are presented

1. The records and personnel interviews indicate that contaminant migration at the Gerstle River Test site is not a problem since (a) the decontamination procedures used before burial of scrap test materials were thorough and complete, and (b) the soil and moisture characteristics at the site are such that even if contaminants were present, leaching of contaminants into the groundwater is unlikely The Test Site is located in a remote area with no adjacent homesites The land is unsuitable for agricultural purposes .

2. Records covering incoming material for the 1953—1958 time frame are incomplete. An accurate accounting on all material shipped into the Gerstle River area for function and surveillance testing is not available. However, interviews with responsible personnel indicate that all munitions subjected to surveillance testing were properly demilitarized. Although all rounds drawn for functional tests were reportedly accounted for with the possible exception of one 155 mm round, it is considered possible that other unexploded ordnance munitions and submunitions may be found at the Gerstle River Test Site.

3. The records indicate that the Gerstle River Test Site is not contaminated by radiological or biological agent materials. A deep well was prepared and instrumented for use as a radiological material disposal well, but it was never used for this purpose.

4. Two fenced disposal pits are located in the Gerstle River Test Site. These pits were opened in 1970 and contain residue and debris removed from all known disposal pits in the Gerstle River area. The pits were closed in 1971 after receiving scrap material from pit near Blueberry Lake. Over 400 truckloads of material (dirt plus refuse) were placed in the two pits. Refuse included scrap metal, test vehicles, grid instrumentation, protective clothing, and uncontaminated garbage. The refuse was decontaminated by incineration and chemical treatment before burial.

5. The records indicate that the Delta Creek area of Fort Greely was used for biological agent testing from 1962 through 1967. Ecological studies were conducted at Delta Creek after testing was completed to assure that active biological materials did not remain at the site.

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IV. CONCLUSION

Based on available records, it is concluded that a preliminary survey of the Gerstle River Test Site is not required.

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V RECOMMENDATIONS

1. Whether or not the property is retained by the Army, consideration should be given to opening the two disposal pits at the Gerstle River Test Site, examining the decontaminated rubble, and move _ it to Fort Greely for disposal in the normal manner prescribed for industrial waste. If the Gerstle River Test Site remains in Army possession, consideration should be given to the removal of the warning signs and fences around the pit areas since these only attract the attention of unauthorized curiosity seekers. The area perimeter fences should remain intact to discourage penetration by unauthorized personnel.

2. Should it be decided to "excess" the Gerstle River Test Site property, it is recommended that the area be swept by an explosive ordnance disposal team to remove large shrapnel fragments and possible UXO’s. One 155mm HE round was reported to have malfunctioned in this area and it is possible that other UXO’s are present since during one of the cleanup operations, three live rounds were discovered.

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DISTRIBUTION LIST

Commander                                                           1 copy
U.S. Army Cold Regions Test Center
Fort Greely, Alaska
(near Delta Junction, Alaska 99737)

 

Office of the Project Manager                          4copies
for Chemical Demilitarization
and Installation Restoration
Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland 21010

FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY

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