Report Abstract


By Cynthia G. Abeyta and Carole L. Thomas

The Chromic Acid Pit site is an inactive waste disposal site that is regulated by the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976. The 2.2-cubic-yard cement-lined pit was operated from 1980 to 1983 by a contractor to the U.S. Army Air Defense Artillery Center and Fort Bliss. The pit, located on the Fort Bliss military reservation, in El Paso, Texas, was used for disposal and evaporation of chromic acid waste generated from chrome plating operations. The site was certified closed in 1989 and the Texas Natural Resources Conservation Commission issued Permit Number HW-50296 (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Permit Number TX4213720101), which approved and implemented post-closure care for the Chromic Acid Pit site. In accordance with an approved post-closure plan, the U.S. Geological Survey is cooperating with the U.S. Army in evaluating hydrogeologic conditions and ground- water quality at the site. One upgradient and two downgradient ground-water monitoring wells were installed adjacent to the chromic acid pit by a private contractor. Quarterly ground-water sampling of these wells by the U.S. Geological Survey began in December 1993.

The Chromic Acid Pit site is situated in the Hueco Bolson intermontane valley. The Hueco Bolson is a primary source of ground water in the El Paso area. City of El Paso and U.S. Army water-supply wells are located on all sides of the study area and are completed 600 to more than 1,200 feet below land surface. The ground-water level in the area of the Chromic Acid Pit site has declined about 25 feet from 1982 to 1993. Depth to water at the Chromic Acid Pit site in September 1994 was about 284 feet below land surface; ground-water flow is to the southeast.

Ground-water samples collected from monitoring wells at the Chromic Acid Pit site contained dissolved-solids concentrations of 442 to 564 milligrams per liter. Nitrate as nitrogen concentrations ranged from 2.1 to 2.7 milligrams per liter; nitrite plus nitrate as nitrogen concentrations ranged from 2.3 to 3.0 milligrams per liter. Nitrate concentrations are abnormally high in the Old Mesa well field located about 5,000 feet southwest of the Chromic Acid Pit site. Volatile and semivolatile organic compounds in water samples were analyzed for the first sampling round; no confirmed volatile or semivolatile organic compounds were detected above the laboratory reporting limits. Total chromium concentrations ranged from 0.0099 to 0.092 milligram per liter; dissolved chromium concentrations ranged from 0.0068 to 0.0094 milligram per liter. Overall, water-quality characteristics in water from the chromic acid pit ground-water monitoring wells are similar to those in the surrounding area. Detected chemical concentrations in water from the chromic acid pit monitoring wells during the four sampling periods were below U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-established maximum contaminant levels for public drinking water supplies.

Statistical analyses were performed on 39 of the chemical constituents analyzed for in ground water from the chromic acid pit monitoring wells. Concentrations of chloride and fluoride were significantly less in water from the downgradient wells than in water from the upgradient well, whereas concentrations of nitrate as nitrogen, nitrite plus nitrate as nitrogen, and dissolved solids were significantly greater in water from the downgradient wells than in water from the upgradient well. Concentrations of nitrate as nitrogen were significantly different in water from the two downgradient wells. Differences detected through statistical analysis of chemical constituents of water in the chromic acid pit monitoring wells did not appear to indicate a release of hazardous chemicals from the chromic acid pit. There was no indication of ground-water contamination in either downgradient well.

Abstract from Water-Resources Investigations Report 96-4035


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