The Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission recommended the Newport Chemical Depot for closure by 2011. In 2012 the US Army completed the environmental remediation in coordination with US EPA and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and issues a Finding of Suitability To Transfer (FOST). Following is detailed explanation of the environmental status of the Vermillion Rise Mega Park.
From 1941-2011, the Vermillion Rise Mega Park property served a national defense function as the Wabash River Ordinance Works and later as the US Army Newport Chemical Depot (NECD). See link to a history of the facility. Over this period, the NEDC hosted the following missions:
- Distillation of heavy water to support the Manhattan Project and later nuclear programs
- Manufacture RDX (RDX was an explosive compound used in WWII)
- Manufacture VX nerve agent
- Manufacture TNT
The US Army Newport Chemical Depot was closed as a provision of the 2005 Base Closure and Alignment (BRAC) legislation.
Following a comprehensive remediation of the property, the property was transferred to the Newport Chemical Depot Reuse Authority (NeCDRA) in 2012. The Newport Chemical Depot Reuse Authority owns and operates this property as the Vermillion Rise Mega Park.
The environmental remediation of the property consist of two distinct components. One is the neutralization and disposal of the stored VX nerve agent and the other involved the investigation and remediation of potential contamination sources resulting from previous industrial processing operations at the site.
The neutralization and disposal of the VX nerve agent took place from 2005 through 2008 at a cost of over two billion dollars. The nerve agent was chemically neutralized on-site and later shipped to Port Authur, Texas for final incineration. This high profile project was thoroughly documented and coordinated by the Department of Defense, US Army, State and Federal regulatory agencies, and citizen groups. See link to Army article regarding the successful neutralization and elimination of VX nerve agent.
The investigation and remediation of properties associated with conventional industrial processing facilities took place from 2005 through 2011. Below are documents associated with this investigation and remediation efforts.
The 2007 Community Environmental Response Facilitation Act (CERFA) Report provides a summary of baseline environmental conditions of the property and helped to frame the subsequent environmental remediation efforts. Note Figure 3-1 of the CERFA that graphically depicts categories of environmental concern.
The 2008 Environmental Condition of the Property (ECP) report was prepared in compliance with Chapter 8, Section 3 of the Base Redevelopment and Realignment Manual. See links to Volume I and Volume II of the ECP.
This analysis resulted in the identification of clean areas, with documented concurrence by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management’s (IDEM) January 2010 correspondence.
The federal decision to close the Newport Chemical Depot necessitated the preparation of 2010 Environmental Assessment of the Implementation of the Base Realignment and Closure to comply with requirement set forth in the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The NEPA analysis resulted in a 2011 Finding of No Significant Impact.
The transfer of property was made possible by the Army issuing a February 2011 Finding of Suitability to Transfer (FOST). The FOST addresses all considerations associated with Section 120(h) of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) (42 U.S.C. Section 9620(h)) requirements and, as such, addressed the typical requirements of a Phase I and Phase II Report.
The FOST report incorporates all previous environmental analysis and documentation. The FOST identified 17 remediation sites and 3 areas of concern. The document provides a complete narrative of how these respective parcels were remediated or otherwise addressed. See FOST for parcels 1 and FOST for parcels 2.
The NeCDRA developed a map depicting all of the Environmental Restrictive Convents on the property. The Environmental Restrictive Covenants provided a cost effective alternative to remediation. Certain sites posed no long-term threat to health or safety, but would require considerable funding to remediate. The US Army, Reuse Authority and state regulatory agencies agreed that Environmental Restrictive Covenants would be a cost effective alternative to remediation. These restrictions range from “no intrusive activity” to “no residential development”. The Newport Chemical Depot Reuse Authority is charged with monitoring and maintaining the Environmental Restrictive Covenants. See link to Environmental Restrictive Covenants and Addendum that are recorded at the Vermillion County Courthouse. The Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) issued a July 2, 2019 letter that serves as IDEM’s final decision that the Newport Chemical Depot (Vermillion Rise Mega Park) has fulfilled its obligations under the RCRA Corrective Action Program and issued a Notice of Corrective Action Complete with Controls.
Since taking title to the former Army facility, the NeCDRA has conducted two Phase I Environmental Assessment. A Phase I Report was conducted for property at the far west boundary of the property. Another Phase I Report was conducted for property adjacent to the shell building on the east side of the property.
Lastly, the US Army included provisions in the transfer deed that provides indemnification for any future purchaser or lessor of the property. See link to the deed. Note page 3 of 13 begins the section on CERCLA and the top of page 4 item 2. (b) Indicates “any additional remedial action found to be necessary after the date of this deed shall be conducted by the United States.”
The Vermillion County Redevelopment Authority was formed to manage the acquisition and transformation of the Depot to the Vermillion Rise Mega Park. A executive director and staff was hired to manage the Park and realignment of this 7,000 acre facility to a new shovel ready industrial Park.