Electrical resistance heating treatment method used to reduce levels of volatile organic compounds in soil at the former Litton Systems Inc. site in Springfield, Missouri.
Electrical resistance heating treatment method used to reduce levels of volatile organic compounds in soil at the former Litton Systems Inc. site in Springfield, Missouri.

The former Litton Systems Inc. site is located on approximately 70 acres at 4811 W. Kearney St. in Springfield, just east of the Springfield-Branson National Airport. From the 1960s to 2007, the site was used to manufacture printed circuit boards. In 2001, Northrop Grumman Corp. acquired the site from Litton Systems Inc. The facility was demolished in 2008, and is now a vacant lot with only the concrete building slab remaining. The site currently is owned by Northrop Grumman Corp. Guidance and Electronics Co. Inc., a subsidiary of Northrop Grumman Corp. 

While operating, the facility produced wastes containing heavy metals, predominantly copper, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), mainly trichloroethylene (TCE)also referred to as trichloroethene. Releases of TCE into the environment during operations resulted in soil and groundwater contamination at the site and in the surrounding area. Groundwater serving private drinking water wells in the Springfield Plateau and Ozark aquifers is affected. Investigations into vapors released from soil and groundwater contaminated with volatile organic compounds, known as vapor intrusion, was detected in Fantastic Caverns, but at levels below health-based action levels. In March 2010, the department and Northrop Grumman entered into a legal order, called a consent decree, for Northrop Grumman to perform the site investigation and cleanup. The department is overseeing this cleanup through its Superfund Cooperative Program. Please review the department's Litton Systems Inc. Site - PUB2750 publication to learn more about the history of the site, investigation and cleanup activities.

Investigation

Groundwater investigations continue, the department is reviewing the results.  Investigation of groundwater conditions on- and off-site continues, with recent work involving installing new monitoring wells in the Ozark and Springfield aquifers. Northrop Grumman also collected additional downhole and surface geophysical data both on and off the former facility property as a key investigation technique to guide monitoring well placement.

Regular private drinking water well testing is ongoing.  To date, Northrop Grumman and the department have collectively sampled 356 domestic wells surrounding the former Litton facility. The most recent sampling event, conducted in May 2020, included collecting samples at 114 locations. Multiple sampling events have taken place, providing a comprehensive data set for private drinking wells in the area. Of the 356 wells sampled, only five had TCE detected at concentrations above the federal drinking water standard, also known as the maximum contaminant level (MCL), of 5 micrograms per liter (5 parts per billion). Northrop Grumman installed and continues to maintain granular activated carbon treatment systems in these five homes. TCE and its breakdown products have been detected in at least one sample from 81 of the other wells, but at concentrations below the MCLs. At this time, each location with TCE detections is sampled every three months. Every three months, Northrop Grumman also continues to sample approximately 30 locations where TCE has not been detected. The most recent sampling event was conducted in October 2020, and the sample results are pending.

Cleanup

On-site soil cleanup nearing completion. Northrop Grumman is working to complete soil cleanup in two remaining areas. The department approved Northrop Grumman’s plan to collect samples to confirm cleanup is complete in one of the areas. In September 2020, Northrop Grumman submitted path forward recommendations for the remaining area, which the department is reviewing.

Groundwater cleanup continues; system capacity is undergoing expansion.  Northrop Grumman continues to pump and treat groundwater from the Springfield-Plateau (shallow) and Ozark (deep) aquifers to remove TCE. Design and construction of an expanded treatment system for the Springfield-Plateau aquifer is underway, which will add several pumping wells. The new treatment building has been constructed and piping installation is ongoing. The department also approved Northrop Grumman’s recommendation to conduct pilot testing of an additional treatment technology to remove TCE from the Springfield-Plateau aquifer. A pilot test work plan is being prepared for department review.

Mitigation systems in place at Fantastic Caverns. Northrop Grumman and Fantastic Caverns entered into agreements to coordinate ongoing sampling and mitigation efforts at Fantastic Caverns. Fantastic Caverns representatives installed and continue to operate mitigation systems, in coordination with Northrop Grumman. Ongoing air sampling in the caverns confirms the mitigation systems were successfully implemented and that safe air levels are being maintained in the toured portions of the caverns. Northrop Grumman and Fantastic Caverns regularly submit reports to the department, presenting the data collected and documenting ongoing mitigation efforts.

Water Testing & Treatment

What if I'm not in the area of interest, but want to have my well tested myself?

Local Laboratory

PDC Laboratories Inc. in Springfield will take walk-in requests and provide residents with containers to collect samples, along with an instruction sheet and a chain-of-custody form. The resident will pay upfront for the EPA Method 524.2 VOC drinking water analysis, which is approximately $180. The samples are sent to the certified PDC Lab located in Peoria, Illinois. Turnaround time for sample results is eight business days. 

PDC Laboratories Inc.
1805 W. Sunset St.
Springfield, MO 65807

Contact: Chad Cooper, Lab Director
Telephone:
 417-864-8924

Other Laboratories

The department certifies chemical laboratories capable of performing analyses of private water samples.

What if I have TCE in my water below the MCL and I want to install a treatment system myself?

The department cannot recommend a water system or a company that sells water treatment systems; however, the following local companies sell and install whole house carbon filtration water treatment systems:

The National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) tests and certifies water treatment systems for reducing specific contaminants in drinking water:

Related Links

Community Involvement

Health Questionnaire

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) sent out a questionnaire in early 2020 to gather input on community concerns and information on how best to communicate with the community. A total of 353 questionnaires were sent out and 94 were returned. DHSS is developing a summary report of the responses, which will be shared with the community when completed. DHSS is also developing a public health consultation, which will evaluate community exposures to TCE in private well water.

Public Meetings

Nov. 7, 2019

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources invited the public to an open house and informational meeting about the former Litton Systems Inc. site in Springfield and the former Electro-Pac site in Willard. The meeting was held at the Relics Event Center in Springfield.

Presentations:

March 14, 2019

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources held an informational meeting about the former Litton Systems Inc. site at the Ozark Empire Fairgrounds and Event Center in Springfield.

Presentations:

Future Activities

Vapor intrusion investigation continues on Airport property.  Northrop Grumman will conduct further soil vapor sampling and air sampling inside hangers on the Airport property, during the fourth quarter of 2020. To date, none of the vapor sampling conducted on the Airport property has shown concentrations that present a health risk to persons working on the property or the travelers.

Northrop Grumman continues working toward developing a final remedy for the groundwater contamination. Ongoing investigations, expanding the Springfield Plateau aquifer treatment systems and planned pilot testing of treatment technologies are integral to this strategy. Northrop Grumman will continue discussions with the department as they collect information to determine the appropriate next steps.