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Titan I Missile Complexes

Titan I Missle in launch position

The Titan I was one of the first strategic, intercontinental ballistic missiles developed by the United States. The 98 foot long, two-staged missile was fueled by kerosene (RP-1 fuel) and liquid oxygen, and was designed to carry nuclear warheads.

 

Developed in the late 1950s, the first Titan I missiles became operational in April of 1962. During the Cuban missile crisis in October 1962, the Titans were readied for launch as a deterrent in the crisis. The Titan I missiles had a short operational life and were phased out by 1965.

 

Each individual Titan I missile complex contained three underground launch silos, each housing one Titan I missile. Launch silos are 160 feet deep and 40 feet in diameter. Titan I missiles had to be fueled before being elevated from the silos to be launched from the surface. Other underground structures include a powerhouse, control center, radio antennas, water supply wells, and a myriad of tunnels. Complexes covered between 30 to 60 acres.

Map of six former Titan I Missile complexes located east of Denver, Colorado

There are six former Titan I missile complexes in Colorado. Four (1A, 1B, 1C and 2A) are located on the Former Lowry Bombing and Gunnery Range (FLBGR) east of Aurora; one (2B) is located north of Deer Trail and one (2C) is located south of Elizabeth (see map).

 

Although the former Lowry Air Force Base in Denver provided command and support facilities to the Titans, the missile complexes themselves were not located on the former Air Force base.

The complexes were decommissioned and the missiles removed in 1965. Public and private owners later acquired the complexes.

The Titan complexes are being investigated for the Department of Defense (DOD) by the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Omaha District. Five of the Titan complexes fall under the Department of Defense's Formerly Used Defense Sites (FUDS) program and one site (Complex 2A - Bennett) is under the Department of Defense's Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) program. Although both programs follow the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) process, commonly known as "Superfund," the sites are not on the Superfund National Priorities List.

 

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Hazardous Materials and Waste Management Division, provides regulatory oversight of the Formerly Used Defense Sites and Base Realignment and Closure programs in Colorado, with assistance from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 8 and local governments.

Titan I Missile layout

  • Soil contamination from petroleum chemicals and/or from polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), often associated with electrical equipment and waterproofing paint, has been found at some sites.

  • Groundwater contamination from cleaning solvents, such as perchloroethylene (PCE) and trichloroethylene (TCE), has also been found at some sites.

  • Water from domestic wells near some of the sites has been tested. No contamination above drinking water standards has been found.

  • Some silo water samples have elevated levels of PCBs or metals such as zinc and cadmium. The metals may be related to water corrosion of metal structures in the complexes.

  • While Titan I missiles were armed with plutonium-based nuclear warheads, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has no evidence of radioactive contamination at the sites. Warhead maintenance occurred at the warhead-manufacturing facilities, and not at the sites themselves. Investigations at the four complexes on the Former Lowry Bombing and Gunnery Range have found naturally occurring radiation such as uranium, radium and potassium, which are related to the geologic formations at the missile sites. However, no man-made radiation, such as plutonium and americium, has been found.

Environmental investigations have focused on past Department of Defense practices at the missile sites, and include sampling and analysis of soil, groundwater, domestic well water, and water in the silos.

 

  • Complex 1A: Closed in November 2004 as a result of investigations and cleanup of surface soil and water in the underground complex. City and County of Denver owns the property.

  • Complex 1B (D015): Titan Complex 1B is located on the Former Lowry Bombing and Gunnery Range, southeast of Denver, Colorado. Investigations at this missile complex have been completed. Polychlorinated biphenol (PCB) contamination associated with drainage ditch and sewage lagoons has been removed, but a chlorinated solvent groundwater contamination plume containing perchloroethene (PCE) and trichloroethene (TCE) remains to be resolved. An onsite in-situ treatability study is underway to determine the most effective remedial alternatives.

  • Complex 1C (D044): Titan Complex 1C is located on the Former Lowry Bombing and Gunnery Range, southeast of Denver, Colorado. Investigations at this missile complex have been completed. A feasibility study to evaluate options for soil and groundwater cleanup was completed in early 2010. A chlorinated solvent groundwater contamination plume, include perchloroethene (PCE) and trichloroethene (TCE), remains to be resolved. An onsite in-situ treatability study is underway to determine the most effective remedial alternatives.

  • Complex 2A (the former Bennett Army National Guard facility): Closed in July 2006 as a result of investigations and surface soil cleanup; transferred to private ownership. The two deep water supply wells were plugged and abandoned in accordance with State regulations. An environmental covenant was placed on 23 acres restricting access to the underground complex, use of groundwater beneath the complex, and intrusive activities (e.g., excavation and drilling).

  • Complex 2B (D045): Titan Complex 2B is located near Deer Trail, Colorado. The Site Inspection (SI) field work was completed in the Fall of 2009. Based on the characterization data developed during the site inspection, only polychlorinated biphenols (PCBs) in the lagoon wastes (soils) is an issue. A non-time critical removal of the impacted soils is planned by the U.S. Army Corp. of Engineers.

  • Complex 2C (D046): Titan Complex 2C is located in Elbert County, Colorado.  Both perchloroethene (PCE) and trichloroethene (TCE) have been quantified in groundwater above basic groundwater standards at two separate monitoring wells. It is possible PCE and/or TCE concentrations above standards extend beyond the property boundary, but no monitoring wells have been installed beyond the property boundary to date. The December 23, 2010 "Final Sampling and Analysis Plan, Additional Monitoring Well Remedial Investigation for Former Lowry Air Force Base, Titan I Missile Site 2, Complex 2C, Elbert County, Colorado" will be implemented in the Spring of 2011. The work plan involves installing up to eight temporary wells and up to four permanent monitoring wells to further determine the extent of groundwater contamination, both onsite and offsite. The temporary wells will be used to determine locations of the four permanent wells.

While localized areas of contamination found at some of the complexes are at levels above state and federal standards, they do not pose a health risk to nearby residents and off-site workers because the complexes are closed and exposure to the contamination is unlikely. Future investigations and clean up efforts will further reduce any potential risks at all of these complexes. Because the sites are private property and pose significant trip and fall hazards, they should not be entered.

 

Note: At Complex 2C, the current discussions on future plans for further investigation will determine what actions might be needed to assess any remaining potential health concerns.

Documents regarding site investigation and/or cleanup plans for the former Titan I missile complexes are available for review at the following locations:

 

For all complexes:

Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

Hazardous Materials and Waste Management Division Records Center

4300 Cherry Creek Drive South

Denver, CO  80246-1530

303-692-3331

comments.hmwmd@state.co.us  include "Records Center" in the subject line

 

For complexes on the former Lowry Bombing and Gunnery Range:

Aurora Public Library

Central Library Branch

14949 East Alameda Parkway

Aurora, CO  80012

303-739-6600

www.auroralibrary.org

Hours of Operation:

Monday through Thursday

9:00 am to 9:00 pm

 

Friday

Closed

 

Saturday

9:00 am to 5 pm

 

Sunday

12:30 pm to 6 pm

 

 

 

  
 

 

For Complex 2C:

Elbert County Public Library

239 Main Street, P.O. Box 219

Elizabeth, CO  80107

Phone:  303-646-3792

Fax:  303-646-0315

Hours of Operation:

Monday through Thursday 9:00 am - 7:00 pm
  Friday 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
  Saturday 9:00 am - 5:00 pm

 

Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

Mr. Lee Pivonka

State Remedial Project Manager

Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

4300 Cherry Creek Drive South

Denver, CO  80246-1530

303-692-3453

lee.pivonka@state.co.us

 

Jeannine Natterman

State Public Involvement Coordinator

Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

4300 Cherry Creek Drive South

Denver, CO  80246-1530

303-692-3303

Jeannine.Natterman@state.co.us

 

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Mr. David Rathke, Ph.D

EPA Remedial Project Manager

1595 Wynkoop Street

Denver, CO  80202-1129

303-312-6016

 

Ms. Peggy Linn

EPA Community Involvement Coordinator

1595 Wynkoop Street

Denver, CO  80202-1129

303-312-6622

 

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha District

Mr. Hector Santiago

USACE Project Manager

106 S. 15th Street

Omaha, NE  68102

402-995-2738

 

Ms. Jill Solberg

USACE Public Affairs Specialist

106 S. 15th Street

Omaha, NE  68102

402-995-2420

1-888-835-5971 (Toll-free)

jill.c.solberg@usace.army.mil