Field Demonstration and Validation of the Training Range Environmental Evaluation and Characterization System (TREECS) and Contaminant Transformation Simulator (CTS) for the Risk Assessment of Contaminants on DoD Ranges

Dr. Billy Johnson | U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

ER-201435

Objectives of the Demonstration

The objectives of this study were to demonstrate and validate the scientific approach of the Training Range Environmental Evaluation and Characterization System (TREECS™) [1] and the Chemical Transformation Simulator (CTS) [2] modeling systems to show that the performance is consistent, reliable, and cost effective and that TREECS™-CTS advances the ability to reliably quantify the potential of environmental risks of MC on, and down-gradient of Department of Defense (DoD) training and testing ranges. The TREECS™ and CTS were applied to three military training sites where the high explosive RDX has been detected in down-gradient receiving waters (i.e., groundwater or surface water). The three study sites were Demolition (Demo) Area 2 of the Massachusetts Military Reservation (MMR), MA., Artillery Impact Area (AIA) of the U.S. Military Academy (USMA), NY and Zula Impact Area (ZIA) of Marine Corps Base (MCB) Camp Pendleton, CA. The model for each site was validated against observed RDX concentrations, and an uncertainty analysis was conducted to evaluate the capability of the model to bracket observed data within the 95% confidence interval. The model was then applied for emerging constituent (EC) components of insensitive munitions (IM) at each study site to demonstrate the ability to evaluate EC fate relative to that of RDX. Then the model of each site was used to evaluate the effectiveness of three range management and/or remediation strategies (i.e., Best Management Practices, or BMPs) to reduce RDX concentrations to demonstrate the utility of TREECS™ for such purposes.

[1] ( http://www.erdc.usace.army.mil/Media/FactSheets/FactSheetArticleView/tabid/9254/Article/476659/training-range-environmental-evaluation-characterization-system.aspx)

[2] https://cfpub.epa.gov/si/si_public_record_Report.cfm?dirEntryId=310644

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Technology Description

The TREECS™ was developed for the Army to forecast the fate of and risk from munitions constituents (MC), such as high explosives (HE) and metals, within and transported from firing/training ranges to surface water and groundwater. TREECS™ consists of contaminant fate/transport models for soil, vadose zone, groundwater, and surface water to forecast MC export from ranges and resulting concentrations in each medium. TREECS™ provides rapid assessment of off-site migration of MC and other contaminants to determine if and when range operations could pose risks to human and ecological receptors down-gradient of ranges. Additionally, TREECS™ can be used to evaluate Green Range Best Management Practice (BMP) alternatives to preserve human and ecological health. These predictive capabilities allow active evaluation and management of range environmental health rather than waiting on costly, periodic monitoring activities for information.

The CTS, previously called the Environmental Fate Simulator (EFS), was developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to provide physicochemical properties of complex organic chemicals for both the parent chemical and predicted transformation products. The CTS has capabilities for estimating properties in the absence of experimentally obtained properties; thus, CTS can help fill data gaps for properties, particularly for emerging contaminants with limited experimental data. The physicochemical properties of the MC or contaminants (including emerging contaminants, or ECs) of interest are required for TREECS™ application. Although TREECS™ contains three separate databases for constituent physicochemical properties, there are data gaps within these databases that CTS can help fill. 

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Demonstration Results

Most of the project objectives’ performance metrics were fully satisfied. The first quantitative metric on the ability of the model to accurately simulate the long-term fate of MC was graded as highly successful for all three study sites. The quantitative metric on the capability to assess the uncertainty of model inputs was graded as moderately successful due to the fact that the confidence bands did not include all observations. The sensitivity and uncertainty analysis feature of TREECS™ operated successfully and as intended. The failure to capture all of the observations within the uncertainty bands was attributed to hydrologic variations/uncertainty as well as the use of rather restrictive uncertainty limits for evaluating confidence bands. The first qualitative metric on the ability to set up a model with readily available data within 80 labor hours was successful for all three study sites. The second qualitative metric on reasonable training requirements has not been graded and is pending the execution of such training that is planned for 2017. The third qualitative metric on the use of TREECS™-CTS to evaluate range management and/or remediation strategies (BMPs) was successful for all three study sites. The fourth qualitative metric on the use of TREECS™-CTS to evaluate the fate of emerging MC was successful. 

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Implementation Issues

TREECS™-CTS should be an integral part of the successful administration of range sustainment programs to help avoid costly range compliance issues. There are really no major implementation issues associated with applying TREECS™. TREECS™ is client based so requires the System Administrator for installation. TREECS™ has an Army Certificate of Networthiness (CON). CTS is a web-based tool that is presently running behind EPA’s firewall on a server. The CTS will be made fully available to the public in 2017.

Presently, there are no DoD or Army directives that require the use of TREECS™, and as a result, TREECS™ has not experienced the use that was originally envisioned during its developmental funding. Thus, the benefits of having a powerful forecast modeling tool such as TREECS™ are not being realized. TREECS™ is a mature, validated modeling tool that is fairly easy to apply relatively quickly. Qualified contract environmental personnel could be readily trained for applying TREECS™-CTS to provide the most expedient and cheapest route to range applications. TREECS™ will not be fully utilized without a requirement for implementation and application. An Army or DoD directive is needed to require such applications, which would provide cost savings, provide much improved site understanding and alternatives assessment, and help ensure range sustainment.

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Points of Contact

Principal Investigator

Dr. Billy Johnson

USACE-ERDC

Phone: 601-634-3714

Fax: 601-634-3129

Program Manager

Environmental Restoration

SERDP and ESTCP

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