FORT JACKSON, S.C. (June 19, 2014) -- Fort Jackson officials held a public meeting Tuesday at the Weston Lake Community House to discuss the latest results of well testing as part of the Fort Jackson and McCrady Training Center's Operational Range Assessment Program, or ORAP.

ORAP is part of the Department of Defense's Sustainable Ranges Initiative, designed to ensure the long-term viability and continuity of military training and testing ranges while providing good stewardship for the land.

Last year, initial tests on Fort Jackson found slightly elevated levels of Royal Demolition Explosive, or RDX. RDX is a man-made chemical found in ammunition and hand grenades, but it does not pose an explosive risk when found in water. The EPA has classified RDX as a possible human carcinogen based on animal studies. To date there have been no studies that reported cancer in people who were exposed to RDX.

The test levels were below the Environmental Protection Agency health advisory level, but because the elevated levels were detected near the southern boundary of Fort Jackson along Leesburg Road, officials decided to test privately owned wells in the area.

As of May 6, 98 private wells have been tested. RDX was detected in 12 of those samples; High Melting Explosive, or HMX, was detected in four samples; and Nitrotoluene, NT, was detected in one sample. Two of the wells showed RDX levels above the EPA health advisory level. The two affected wells serve five homes, which have been supplied with bottled water service as of May 21.

Barbara Williams, Environmental Management Branch chief, said Fort Jackson is pursuing installation of whole-house filtration system services for homes serviced by wells that exceed the EPA health advisory level for RDX. In addition, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Savannah District will install 15 groundwater monitoring wells along the southern installation boundary and three at Remagen hand grenade range this month for continuous monitoring. Fort Jackson officials are also planning to add lime to the ground at Remagen to neutralize any RDX residue in the soil.

Officials said they are still investigating the cause of the RDX contamination in the wells off post. Williams said the installation is working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Louis District to reconstruct what kind of training took place in those areas in the past. Large portions of the land south of Leesburg Road were leased to the Army for training in the 1950s, and historical records are scarce, Williams said. The affected area is in Hopkins, east of Weston Lake, south of Leesburg Road, west of Grimes Road and Caughman's Pond and north of Louis Leconte Road.

She encouraged residents who have knowledge of training activities in those areas during that time to contact her at barbara.s.williams38.civ@mail.mil.

Col. Michael Graese, garrison commander, said the overarching concern was the safety of the Soldiers and civilians on post as well as the residents off post. He appealed to area property owners to fill out right-of-entry forms to allow testers access to their wells. Williams said the more homeowners participate in the testing, the clearer the picture will be about the extent of the affected area and the steps needed to take to mitigate the effects.

The forms can be found at http://jackson.armylive.dodlive.mil/units/usag/dpw/env/orap/. The website also includes fact sheets about RDX, HMX and NT, as well as briefing slides from the public meeting.