Atlas missile sites

  • There are five former Atlas E intercontinental ballistic missile sites in Colorado, scattered across the northern plains in Weld and Larimer counties.
  • The sites were decommissioned and the missiles removed in 1965. The complexes were then sold to public and private owners.
    • Two of the sites are used for commercial purposes (Atlas 11 and 13), one (Atlas 9) is being converted into a residence, another (Atlas 10) is covered with soil and is owned by the U.S. Forest Service, and one (Atlas 12) has become the Weld County Missile Park and is also used for county storage.
 
Regulatory setting
  • The Atlas sites are being investigated and cleaned up for the Department of Defense by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha District.
    • The sites fall under the Formerly Used Defense Sites (FUDS) program, which follows the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, or "Superfund" process, although the sites aren’t on the Superfund National Priorities List. 
    • We provide regulatory oversight of the FUDS programs in Colorado, with assistance from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 8, and local governments.
 
Environmental issues
  • Soil contamination from petroleum chemicals and/or from polychlorinated biphenyls has been found at all five Atlas sites.
  • Groundwater contamination from trichloroethylene, a cleaning solvent, has been found in groundwater at Atlas sites 11, 12 and 13.
  • Trichloroethylene was used during site construction and by the missile crews to flush the fuel tanks after missile readiness tests.
    • The crews disposed of the spent trichloroethylene and residual RP-1 fuel in a sump below the launch building that discharged onto the surface and then into shallow groundwater.
    • Water from domestic wells near some of the sites was tested and no trichloroethylene contamination found.
    • Water in the launch building sump at Site 12 contains trichloroethylene.
  • Indoor air above the launch building sump at sites 11, 12, and 13 may be a potential concern.
  • While the Atlas E missile was armed with a plutonium-based nuclear warhead, we have no evidence of radioactive contamination at the sites. Warhead maintenance occurred at the warhead manufacturing facilities, not at the sites themselves.
 
Environmental investigations
 
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 and air in the complexes.
 
Atlas 9
  • Investigations completed.
  • Soil removal action conducted in 2006.
  • Site closure completed in March 2008.
  • No further cleanup actions planned.
 
Atlas 10
  • Investigations completed.
  • Soil removal action conducted in 2007.
  • Site closure completed in April 2008.
  • No further cleanup actions planned.
 
Atlas 11
  • Investigations completed, including determining the full extent of groundwater contamination.
  • Soil removal action conducted in 2006.
  • Feasibility study for groundwater cleanup completed.
  • Due to Department of Defense funding limitations, a long-term groundwater monitoring program is being developed until funding is available for groundwater cleanup plans.
  • The Army Corps of Engineers will develop an "Interim Response Agreement" letter in conjunction with the long-term monitoring scope of work in spring 2009.
 
Atlas 12
  • Investigations mostly completed.
  • Feasibility study for groundwater cleanup completed in 2003.
  • In June 2008, the Army Corps of Engineers awarded a cleanup contract to conduct additional site characterization work and pilot testing of cleanup options. The work began in fall 2008.
  • The contractor will use this information to prepare a proposed plan for cleanup of  and petroleum product on the groundwater.
  • The proposed plan should be available for public comment in January 2011. Installation of off-site monitoring wells to determine the extent of off-site contamination is scheduled for spring 2009.
  • Site Characterization fact sheet.
 
Atlas 13
  • Investigations completed, including determining the full extent of groundwater contamination.
  • Soil removal action conducted in 2006.
  • Feasibility study for groundwater cleanup completed.
  • Due to Department of Defense funding limitations, a long-term groundwater monitoring program is being developed until funding is available for groundwater cleanup plans.
  • The Army Corps of Engineers will develop an "Interim Response Agreement" letter in conjunction with the long-term monitoring scope of work in spring 2009.
  • Additionally, there is a 2008 proposal to construct the Glade Park Reservoir adjacent to this site, and selection of a groundwater cleanup method will be delayed to see if the reservoir will actually be constructed.
 
Evaluation of health concerns
  • Trichloroethylene in groundwater is the greatest concern at the Atlas sites.
  • To date, no contamination has been detected in any domestic or private wells.
  • Future monitoring and cleanup efforts will help alleviate any remaining concerns. 
  • Because contaminated soil has been removed from the localized areas on the sites, there’s no health risk to nearby residents from soil contamination.
  • Most sites are private property and shouldn’t be entered.
  • Tours of the Weld County Missile Park site can be arranged with Weld County.
 
Future actions and public involvement
  • Cleanup plans, including long-term groundwater monitoring plans, will be available to the public as they’re developed.
    • Plans will be posted on this website and notices placed in local newspapers when the plans are available.
    • Public meetings will be scheduled as needed.
 
Information repositories
Documents related to the environmental investigations and cleanup plans at the Atlas sites can be found at the following locations:
 
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
 
Hazardous Materials and Waste Management Division Records Center
4300 Cherry Creek Drive South
Denver, CO  80246
303-692-3331
comments.hmwmd@state.co.us (Include "Records Center" in the subject line)
 
Weld County, sites 9, 10, 11 and 12:
 
Weld County Library District
Farr Branch Library
1939 61st St.
Greeley, CO  80634
 
Larimer County, Site 13:
 
Fort Collins Public Library
201 N. Peterson St.
Fort Collins, CO  80524