Region 8

Tooele Army Depot (North Area)

Tooele Army Depot site location map Site Type: Federal Facility Final NPL
City: Tooele
County: Tooele
Street Address: 3 miles south of Tooele on Hwy 36
ZIP Code: 84074
EPA ID: UT3213820894
SSID: 0861
Site Aliases: None
Congressional District: 1

What's New?

Updated June 2014

A Feasibility Study is in progress for Operable Unit 15 (OU15) of the Tooele Army Depot (North Area) Superfund Site, for five of seven munitions response sites. Two remaining munitions response sites are scheduled for no further action based on sample results. One additional munitions response site was reassigned to a new Operable Unit, OU16. A no-further-action Record of Decision was signed for OU16 in December 2013, based on the absence of munitions contaminants during the investigation.

A corrective measures study of the Northeast Boundary Plume and the Base Closure (BRAC) industrial areas was completed in 2012. The state hazardous waste permit, under RCRA (the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act), was amended to incorporate additional source control actions of soil vapor extraction and air sparging at the landfill and several buildings where contributions to groundwater are taking place. Over 2,000 pounds of trichloroethylene and perchloroethylene have been removed by soil vapor extraction as of spring 2014. Monitored natural attenuation (MNA) was proposed for dilute portions of all plumes. An MNA study is in development, and a corrective measures implementation plan was submitted to regulators in April 2014.

The Army completed the third five-year review for Superfund remedies at Tooele Army Depot (TEAD) in March 2013; EPA concurred in April. Updates and improvements to the institutional controls in the BRAC area were recommended. All Operable Units were found to be protective in the short term. Groundwater is under a separate review cycle, under the RCRA permit. It was not evaluated during the last five-year review. The next RCRA permit review is scheduled for 2016.

The Deseret Chemical site, also known as Tooele South, was merged with the Tooele North site into one Army command in 2013. These two sites are separated by several miles. Deseret Chemical is not part of the TEAD Superfund site and will not become so due to this change. Hazardous waste regulation will continue under the state RCRA program at Deseret Chemical.

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Site Description

Tooele Army Depot (TEAD) has been an active army base since the early 1940s. The 23,732-acre site is located in northeastern Tooele County, Utah, about 35 miles southwest of Salt Lake City. Environmental contamination occurred during the depot's 50-plus years of storing ammunition and repairing equipment. The site was placed on the EPA Superfund National Priorities List (NPL) in October 1990. Superfund is the shorthand term for CERCLA—the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act—passed by Congress in 1980 to address the dangers of abandoned or uncontrolled sites contaminated with hazardous substances.

The U.S. Army is the lead-agency to fund assessment and clean up of the site. The Utah Department of Environmental Quality (UDEQ) and EPA cooperatively regulate the clean-up using both RCRA and CERCLA authorities. Remedies have been managed under ten Superfund operable units (OUs) at TEAD, including 57 RCRA solid waste management units (SWMUs). Some of the SWMUs, including all the groundwater, are regulated under a state RCRA permit. OUs 4–10, which contain 17 SWMUs, are being cleaned up under the Superfund program. OUs 1–3, which contain 40 SWMUs, are being addressed under Utah Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) authority.

OU15 was added to the Federal Facilities Agreement in 2012 to assess and clean up seven munitions areas, as needed. An eighth area has since been added. Assessment of these areas was performed in 2013. Five areas continue into feasibility study in 2014, two are scheduled for no further action based on sampling data, and one area was assigned to OU16, where a no-action Record of Decision was issued.

In March 1993, part of the site (1,663 acres) was placed on the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) list. As a BRAC site, 41 acres were transferred by the Army for private use in 1996. The remaining 1,622 acres of the BRAC parcel were transferred to the redevelopment agency of the city of Tooele in January of 1999. The property was subsequently sold by Tooele City to a commercial developer. Contaminated areas in the 1,663-acre parcel are being cleaned up by the Army. The remaining 22,069 acres of the depot will be retained by the Army for continued storage of conventional ammunition.

TEAD is the Department of Defense (DOD) western region hub for the storage, receipt, issue, maintenance, and demilitarization of conventional ammunition. It is also DOD’s Ammunition Peculiar Equipment (APE) center for the design, manufacture, fielding and maintenance of all APE. In 2010 the depot was designated as a Center for Industrial and Technical Excellence (CITE) for APE.

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Site Risk

An initial environmental assessment of the site, completed in 1979, found potential contamination at an area where explosives were burned or detonated in the open. Further studies showed contamination in soils and groundwater because of equipment maintenance, munitions disposal and other industrial activities. Some contaminants of concern are explosives, lead, cadmium, barium, pesticides, hydrocarbons, solvents, waste oils and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

Media Affected Contaminants Source of Contamination
soil, solid waste, debris, groundwater explosives, lead, cadmium, barium, pesticides, hydrocarbons, solvents, waste oils, PCBs, polyaromatic hydrocarbons, 1,4-dioxane equipment maintenance, munitions disposal and other industrial activities

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Cleanup Progress

Several source control measures have taken place under RCRA and CERCLA. These include:

  • Removal of soil contaminated with explosives;
  • Removal of expended crowd-control devices (such as tear gas) from a trench;
  • Removal and decontamination of equipment at two sites;
  • Removal of a sump and contaminated soil at the battery-maintenance building, where soil was contaminated with lead and battery acid;
  • Closure and removal of a waste-disposal sump;
  • Soil vapor extraction and air sparging at several source areas in the BRAC parcel.

Treatment and investigation of groundwater contamination continues, along with evaluation of methods to effectively manage the contamination and source areas. Between 1991 and 1993, the Army constructed one of the country’s largest groundwater treatment plants to address a contaminant plume that had migrated off-base. When the plant was found to be unsuccessful in reducing overall concentrations in the plume, a second contaminant plume was found and investigated on the northeastern side of the base. The state hazardous waste permit was amended in 2012 to control additional sources contributing to groundwater contamination in the industrial BRAC portion of the site. Monitored natural attenuation was proposed in the corrective measures study completed in February 2012 for the more dilute portions of the plume. The water treatment plant has remained available for use for many years. It is past the age of being easily maintained—decommissioning is likely. A public meeting held in spring 2014 identified this potential. Portable treatment units have been identified as an alternative. A feasibility study is in progress under the Military Munitions Response Program. A decision document is planned for 2015.

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Community Involvement

Community involvement plays an important role in the Superfund process. EPA uses a number of different tools and resources to promote effective, on-going, meaningful community involvement. The goals of the Superfund community involvement program are to:

  • Keep communities affected by sites informed throughout the cleanup process.
  • Provide opportunities for communities to comment and offer their input about site cleanup plans.
  • Facilitate the resolution of community issues tied to a site.

TEAD’s Technical Review Committee/Restoration Advisory Board meetings are held twice yearly at the Tooele Country Courthouse auditorium. The public is invited to attend. Information concerning the meetings can be obtained by calling the Tooele Army Depot Environmental Office at 435-837-2761.

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EPA places a high priority on land reuse as part of its Superfund response program mission. The agency tries to select cleanup options that encourage and support future use of a site. EPA uses two fundamental methods to facilitate reuse of Superfund sites:

  • Exploring future uses before the cleanup remedy is implemented, an approach that gives the Agency the best chance of designing cleanup remedies to support the likely future use of a site.
  • Working with landowners and communities to remove barriers not considered necessary for the protection of human health or the environment at those sites where remedies are already in place.

One option for reuse is the siting of clean and renewable energy projects on contaminated (or formerly contaminated) lands. As part of this effort, EPA is evaluating the potential for energy projects on these properties and working with landowners and communities to identify ways to remove barriers to such projects.

Tooele Army Depot has been in continuous use during site cleanup. Part of the property was transferred to private ownership through the BRAC program and is in use as an industrial park. The industrial park now includes businesses such as a pallet maker, a furniture warehouse outlet, a diesel motor refurbisher and an equipment painting operation. A Cabela’s distribution center is under construction and expected to be operational in mid-2015. Land use controls and annual review of their effectiveness serve to protect the existing remedies and prevent exposure to contamination.

Tooele Army Depot has plans to install 429 dish-style solar concentrators. The project will provide 30 percent of TEAD’s electrical consumption when it begins producing electricity. The dishes will be spread over 17 acres about a mile west of the depot’s administrative offices, in an area designated as an energy corridor. A wind turbine was placed there in 2010.

The wind turbine and solar array projects are each expected to produce 1.5 megawatts of electricity, a combined 60 percent of the depot’s energy use. According to the nonprofit Utah Clean Energy, the depot’s array will be one of the larger solar power installations in Utah. A 1.5-megawatt generator is enough to provide power to 300 to 400 homes.

This site currently does not meet the criteria for Site-wide Ready for Anticipated Use; however, parts of the site are suitable for reuse.

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Land Use Controls and Other Institutional Controls

Land use controls are the most common type of institutional control (IC). ICs are administrative or legal controls that help reduce the likelihood for human exposure to contamination. ICs can also help protect the integrity of the remedy. Examples of ICs are:

  • Zoning ordinances.
  • Environmental covenants.
  • Deed notices.
  • Well-drilling restrictions.
  • Building permits.
  • Informational advisories.

TEAD incorporates a number of institutional and land use controls to ensure safety at the site. They include signage, fencing, deed restrictions, controlled access through manned guard gates, secondary gates controlled by ammunition demilitarization personnel, and required inspections of the Industrial Waste Lagoon and ditches. A groundwater management zone extends beyond the mapped area of groundwater contamination, so that exposures to contaminants in the plume will not take place. Annual inspections evaluate the effectiveness of the land use control system.

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Five-Year Reviews

EPA or the lead agency conducts five-year reviews following the start of a Superfund cleanup when contamination is left on the site. These reviews are repeated every five years. We use these reviews to determine:

  • How the remedy is working.
  • If the remedy remains protective of human health and the environment.

Five-year review reports were issued in 2002, 2008 and 2013.

EPA concurred with the DOD’s protectiveness statements in the 2013 five-year review. EPA agreed that cleanup actions taken at the Tooele Army Depot are protective of human health and the environment in the short term, and that all immediate threats have been or are being adequately addressed. Updates and improvements to the institutional controls in the BRAC area were recommended. The next five-year review is due in 2018.

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Site Documents

Note: Best way to open a very large document: right click and save it to a file.

Third Five-Year Review Report (PDF), April 4, 2013 (196 pp, 42 MB, About PDF)

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Pat Smith
Remedial Project Manager
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 8
1595 Wynkoop Street (8EPR-F)
Denver, CO 80202-1129
800-227-8917 ext. 312-6907 (toll free Region 8 only)

U.S. Army

Nick Montgomery
Environmental Engineer
U.S. Army
Tooele Army Depot
Tooele, UT 84074

Site Information Repositories:

Tooele City Public Library
128 West Vine Street
Tooele, UT 84074

Tooele Army Depot
Environmental Management Division
Building T-8
Tooele, UT 84074

Grantsville Public Library
429 East Main Street
Grantsville, UT 84029-9568

J. Willard Marriott Library
Special Collections Department
University of Utah
295 South 1500 East
Salt Lake City, UT 84112-0860


Helge Gabert
Project Manager
Utah Department of Environmental Quality
Division of Solid and Hazardous Waste
195 North 1950 West, 2nd Floor
Salt Lake City, UT 84116

Michael Storck
Project Manager
Utah Department of Environmental Quality
Division of Environmental Response and Remediation
195 North 1950 West
Salt Lake City, UT 84116

Dave Allison
Community Involvement Coordinator
Utah Department of Environmental Quality
195 North 1950 West
Salt Lake City, UT 84116

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Photo/Video Gallery

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Tooele County Exit

Utah Department of Environmental Quality Exit

Tooele Army Depot

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