The Joliet Army Ammunition Plant (JOAPP), located in Will County, Ill., was constructed during World War II for the purpose of manufacturing, loading, assembling and packaging and shipping munitions. The site was essentially divided into two main areas:
- Manufacturing Area
- Loading-Assemble-Package Area
The Manufacturing Area, covered approximately 14 square miles and is where the chemical constituents of munitions, propellants, and explosives were produced. The Loading-Assemble-Package Area covered 22 square miles and was used to load, assemble, package and ship munitions. This area also contained munitions filling and assembly lines, storage areas and a demilitarized area.
In 1945, all production of explosives ceased. The sulfuric acid and ammunition nitrate plants were leased and the remaining production facilities were put on-hold and reactivated during the Korean and Vietnam Wars. Production gradually decreased until it completely stopped in 1978. Since then, various defense contractors have utilized some of the installation site.
In 1978, the Army Environmental Center conducted an Installation Assessment documenting the potential environmental impacts at the former industrial areas and locations of where waste disposal activities occurred. In 1987, the Manufacturing Area was listed on the National Priority List.
The Load-Assemble-Package Area was added to the National Priority List in March 1989. A Record of Decision was signed in November 1998. A Federal Facility Agreement is in place between the Army, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (region 5) and Illinois EPA.
The Louisville District has two basic tasks in support of the Joliet Army Ammunition Plant installation. The first, involves the investigation, remedial design and ultimately the remedial action associated with identified environmental concerns (soils and groundwater contamination) at the site. This includes the development of a bioremediation facility. The facility is the world's largest and has successfully treated over 30,000 tons of soil in its first year of operation. The estimated amount of explosives contaminated soil to be remediated is approximately 260,000 tons, which is expected to take up to seven years to treat.
The second task involves real estate support from the Louisville District for agricultural lease and execution of the disposal action for the site. The cleanup of the site will allow the transfer of the property for the beneficial reuse by Will County, Ill.; the State of Illinois; the Veterans Affairs and Forest Service in accordance with Public Law 104-106, 1996.
The bioremediation facility comprises three treatment buildings, each housing two windrows. The windrows contain contaminated soil, which is mixed with amendments to facilitate microbial growth. These amendments include wood chips, stable bedding and corn processing waste, all of which is obtained locally, except the corn processing waste. The process takes an average of 18 days to effectively treat the soil, which is currently stockpiled at the site.
Alternatives are being explored for the reuse of the treated soil. These include test plots for possible landfill cover at the facility and testing prairie seed mixture for potential use by the U.S. Forest Service Midewin Tallgrass Prairie.
Through the team’s effort, the bioremediation facility has optimized production and reduced the cost-to-complete by $25 million. In addition to these cost-savings, the transfer of 2,024 acres to CenterPoint Properties is expected to bring economic development to the area with the creation of two industrial parks. Preliminary economic analysis finds that these industrial parks will generate more than 21,000 construction jobs, 8,000 permanent jobs, and more than $27 million in annual property taxes upon completion.
Future Land Use
To date, 15,080 acres has been transferred to the U.S. Forest Service for the establishment of the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, 2,243 acres to the State of Illinois for subsequent transfer to CenterPoint Properties, 982 acres for the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery and 455 acres to Will County to establish a landfill.
Other transfers include approximately 10 acres to the U.S. Forest Service for a maintenance facility and 218 acres to the Joliet Arsenal Development Authority. The remaining 761 acres are planned for transfer to the Joliet Arsenal Development Authority in 2011.