The Navy has finished excavating contaminated soil from a former base in Willow Grove and is looking for a new place to deposit it after a New Jersey landfill backed out of taking it this week, a military official said on Friday.
The soil, which was excavated between November and January, is being contained and stored on the site until a new disposal site is found.
“It may take the Navy several weeks to remobilize, load, and transport the soils to an alternate disposal facility,” said Willie Lin, an environmental coordinator for the former base.
The Cumberland County Improvement Authority had agreed to take the soil but backed out after environmental activists voiced concerns.
The chemicals present in the soil, known as PFAS, were used in firefighting foams on the base and have seeped into the drinking water supplies of surrounding communities. In information previously released about the excavation, the military had said the contaminated soil posed an “imminent threat” to the public and could continue leaching into groundwater.
Excavating the soil was one step in remediating contamination on the base. Now that it is excavated, this soil — which was the top 5 percent most-contaminated soil on the base — will not continue leaching chemicals. Other soil and groundwater on base are still contaminated, potentially threatening future drinking water.
The soil does not meet the EPA classifications for a hazardous substance. The Navy sampled the soil for PFAS, followed regulations, and had EPA approval for the New Jersey dump site, Lin said.