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Welcome to the NASA Groundwater Cleanup Program Web site for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), created in conjunction with NASA's cleanup responsibilities under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), sometimes referred to as "Superfund." This site provides community members and interested parties convenient access to information associated with CERCLA environmental cleanup activities at JPL.
This website is intended to provide visitors with the latest news about NASA cleanup activities, the ability to search and retrieve documents from the Information Repository database, including groundwater monitoring and other reports and articles related to the groundwater cleanup, and the ability to contact Program Managers for additional information.
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As part of NASA's responsibilities under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERLCA), NASA performed an additional investigation in accordance with an approved Work Plan . The objectives of the investigation were to (1) evaluate the downgradient (southern) extent of chemicals originating from the JPL facility and (2) to determine if the occurrence of perchlorate in the Sunset Reservoir area was associated with migration from the JPL facility.
Upon completion of the investigation, NASA prepared a Technical Memorandum , summarizing the results. NASA also produced fact sheets about the results of the study and the comprehensive methods (or tools) that were used to understand the technical information. One fact sheet explained the Four Tools used as the basis for the study. The other fact sheet summarized the Results of the study.
In addition, Dr. Neil Sturchio, an expert in stable isotope analysis with the University of Illinois-Chicago, has issued a summary and analysis of the isotopic section of the report. Dr. Sturchio's summary supported NASA’s conclusions that (1) the chemicals from the JPL facility are captured within the Monk Hill Subarea, and (2) the perchlorate detected at the Sunset Reservoir wells is of a different origin than that used at, and originating from, JPL.
Upon release of the Additional Investigation Technical Memorandum, NASA met with PWP and separately with the Remediation Project Managers (RPMs) to present the findings, and encourage technical discussions associated with perchlorate in the Sunset Reservoir Wells. NASA also invited broad review of its study and received several sets of comments .
NASA thoroughly reviewed all comments submitted and prepared a detailed Response to Comments . NASA’s responses stressed the importance of considering the information generated by all the tools together to understand the complexities of underground conditions and the existence of perchlorate in local groundwater. NASA again concluded that (1) the chemicals from the JPL facility are captured within the Monk Hill Subarea, and (2) the perchlorate detected at the Sunset Reservoir wells is of a different origin than that used at, and originating from, JPL.
Following finalization of NASA’s Responses to Comments, PWP contracted Geoscience Support Services, Inc. who prepared a technical report on the perchlorate contamination in local groundwater. The Geoscience Report primarily focused on additional groundwater modeling analysis and their interpretations of the perchlorate isotope data. NASA responded to the Geoscience report, providing comments and recommendation . EPA also issued a letter in response to the Geoscience Report. Subsequently, during a teleconference on technical aspects of modeling results, NASA, PWP, and EPA concluded that Geoscience did not provide sufficient analysis in their groundwater modeling results to substantiate their interpretations. PWP and Geoscience initially agreed to conduct additional groundwater modeling consistent with the recommendations provided by NASA. PWP ultimately decided not to pursue this additional analysis, citing the expense.
NASA decided to submit the Additional Investigation findings to outside peer review for publication. NASA’s Additional Investigation was published in Environmental Forensics Journal in March 2010. The article was titled, “Integrated Environmental Forensics Approach for Evaluating the Extent of Dissolved Perchlorate Originating from Multiple Sources.”
PWP continued to consider the results of studies regarding perchlorate in the Sunset Reservoir Wells and submitted additional technical memoranda to EPA prepared by a PWP staff member, David Kimbrough, Ph.D. PWP prepared three separate memoranda.
NASA thoroughly evaluated PWP’s technical memoranda and had Dr. Neil Sturchio re-evaluate the perchlorate and geochemical data considering PWP’s findings. NASA prepared a detailed Technical Response to the PWP memoranda and again concluded based on all available data/evidence that (1) the chemicals from the JPL facility are captured within the Monk Hill Subarea, and, (2) the perchlorate detected at the Sunset Reservoir wells is of a different origin than that used at, and originating from, JPL.
The Sunset Reservoir Wells were discussed at the April 30, 2013 RPM meeting. A Meeting Summary was prepared by NASA, which included the presentation made by NASA and the presentation made by PWP. In addition, PWP shared with NASA a lengthier set of back-up slides associated with the technical memoranda prepared by David Kimbrough, Ph.D. During the meeting, EPA concluded that the studies by NASA and PWP indicate that the Sunset Reservoir Wells should not be part of the JPL CERCLA Site at this time. EPA’s recommended path forward for the groundwater remediation at the JPL CERCLA Site includes moving forward to a final groundwater Record of Decision (ROD) for JPL focused on the Monk Hill Subarea, with continued monitoring of groundwater between the JPL Site and the Sunset Reservoir Wells. Data from this monitoring will be evaluated, at a minimum, as part of the CERCLA Five-Year Reviews for JPL. NASA agrees with EPA’s recommendation.
Other NASA Green Initiatives NASA pursues green initiatives at its Centers across the country. Read about NASA's green initiatives for water cleanup at JPL here and see what some of the other Centers are doing, too.
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