Plum Brook Ordnance Works

PBOW Historical PhotoPlum Brook Ordnance Works (PBOW), located near Sandusky, Ohio, produced trinitrotuluene (TNT), dinitrotuluene (DNT) and Pentolite from 1941 to 1944 for use during World War II. Currently the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Glenn Research Center occupies the site.

Possession of the property was transferred to the Ordnance Department in 1946, then to the War Assets Department, and finally to the General Services Agency (GSA) in 1949. NASA acquired the property in 1963 and presently maintains and utilizes approximately 6,500 of the original 9,000 acres.

Numerous environmental investigations have been conducted at the site to determine the level of contamination from the ordnance manufacturing processes. Current investigations began in the early 1980s and since then 16 areas of concern (AOC) have been identified. Recent investigations conducted by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Huntington District have initiated remediation activities under the Defense Environmental Restoration Program for Formerly Used Defense Sites (DERP-FUDS). The USACE is the federal agency responsible for environmental restoration at Department of Defense installations. Huntington District USACE works closely with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Restoration Advisory Board (RAB), a group of concerned citizens from the communities surrounding the PBOW area.

PBOW is located near Sandusky, Ohio, four miles south of the Lake Erie Port of Sandusky, and consists of 9,009.32 acres of land plus 1.35 acres for a pump station. Located primarily in Perkins Township, most of the southeastern portion of PBOW lies in Oxford Township. The eastern edge of the site extends into Huron and Milan Townships. The site is bounded by U.S Route 250 on the east, County Road 43 on the west, Bogart Road on the north and Mason Road on the south. Most of PBOW is situated on undisturbed forested land, while the area surrounding the site is rural and agriculturally developed.

This website is intended to provide information concerning the environmental restoration activities at PBOW to the general public. The material contained herein will be updated as activities at the site progress, so check back often or contact USACE Huntington District at 1-800-822-8413.

Site History

PBOW Historical Photo The original site was acquired by the Department of Defense (DoD) in 1938 for the manufacture of ordnance, and consisted of 9,009.32 acres of land plus 1.35 acres for a pump station. In the early 1940s the U. S. Army contracted with the Trojan Powder Company to manufacture 2.4.6-trinitrotoluene (TNT), dinitrotoluene (DNT), and pentolite at Plum Brook Ordnance Works (PBOW). Production began on December 16, 1941 and continued through late 1945. During production more than one billion pounds of ordnance was manufactured. The Army conducted decontamination and decommissioning of many of the buildings and structures associated with the manufacturing of ordnance. It is estimated that 65% of the necessary decontamination of PBOW was completed by December 1945. At midnight on December 17, 1945, physical custody of the PBOW was transferred from the Trojan Powder Company to the U. S. Army Ordnance Department. Renamed Plum Brook Depot, it was used for ammunition storage. The Ordnance Department became the accountable agency and the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers assumed responsibility for maintenance and custodial duties at the PBOW from January 1 through June 30, 1946. The property was further decontaminated and then transferred to the War Assets Administration in August 1946. From 1946 to 1949 the property was protected and maintained by Matthew-Levio and Sons. In 1949 it was transferred to the General Services Administration which maintained oversight of the facility. Ravenna Arsenal conducted further decontamination efforts from 1954 to 1958. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) accepted approximately 8,400 acres of the facility in 1963 after Ravenna Arsenal certified that the PBOW had been completely decontaminated and was suitable for unrestricted future use. After acceptance of the PBOW, NASA identified further areas that required decontamination. In 1964, NASA continued site decontamination and the removal of structures. In 1978, NASA declared approximately 2,150 acres of land as excess. The Perkins Township Board of Education uses 46 of the excess acres as a bus transportation center while much of the remaining excess property was reclaimed for farmland. In 1994 the PBOW was determined to be eligible for the Defense Environmental Restoration Program for Formerly Used Defense Sites.

 

List of Projects

Acids Areas

Used for the manufacturing of nitric and sulfuric acids used in various stages of the manufacture of TNT and pentolite

  • Acid Area #1 – central portion of PBOW, south of the Garage and Maintenance Area
  • Acid Area #2 – westernmost portion of PBOW, south of Maintenance Road and east of Patrol Road, northwest of Pipe Creek
  • Acid Area #3 – northwestern portion of PBOW along Ransom Road north of Maintenance Road

Ash Pits and Power Plants

The Ash Pits were disposal areas for fly ash generated from the burning of coal at on-site Power Plants

  • Ash Pit #1/Power Station #1 – south of Maintenance Road and north of railroad tracks and the power house building
  • Ash Pit #2/Power Station #2 – west of Campbell Street, across the street from the power station
  • Ash Pit #3/Power Station #3 – west of Ransom Road and south of Maintenance Road

Burn Grounds

Used for the disposal of explosive manufacturing wastes and out-of-specification ordnance

  • Reservoir #2 – northwestern portion of PBOW
  • G-8 – southwestern portion of PBOW near the intersection of Campbell Street and Patrol Road
  • Taylor Road – southeast of Taylor Road and east of Ransom Road
  • Snake Road – southern portion of PBOW, north of intersection of West Scheid and Snake Roads
  • Fox Road – northeastern portion of PBOW north of Fox Road

Garage and Maintenance Area

Used for the general maintenance of equipment and vehicles; located in the central portion of PBOW along Maintenance Road

Pentolite Area

Used for the production of pentolite; located in the north-central portion of PBOW within the boundaries of Ransom Road on the west, Pentolite Road on the south, and Patrol Road on the north and east

Rail Car Unloading Area/Sellite Area

The Rail Car Unloading Area is near the Garage and Maintenance Area on the north side of Maintenance Road between Ransom and Taylor Roads and was used to unload toluene and other chemicals from rail cars; the Sellite Area is west of the Rail Car Unloading Area and was used for the production and storage of sellite used for the TNT washing process

Red Water Ponds

Discharge areas for process waste water resulting from one of the final purification steps in the production of TNT; named due to color of water

  • West Area – two ponds on west side of PBOW; contained wastes from TNT Area C
  • Pentolite Road – north central portion of PBOW; contained wastes from TNT Areas A and B

Sitewide Ground Water

Potential for ground-water contamination

TNT Areas

Location where Operations were housed for the manufacture of trinitrotoluene (TNT) and dinitrotoluene (DNT); each TNT Area incorporated Underground Wastewater Flumes, Toluene Tank Areas, Red Water Ponds, and Wastewater Treatment Plants

  • TNT Area A – 113 acres on the east side of Plum Brook Ordnance Works (PBOW)
  • TNT Area B – 48 acres in the southern portion of PBOW
  • TNT Area C – 113 acres on the west side of PBOW

TNT Rail Car Loading Areas

Used to load rail cars with TNT for shipment from the site to storage areas on the site; suspected at each TNT Area

Toluene Tank Areas

Each TNT area had two above-ground storage tanks

  • 255 & 265/TNT Area A – 'Upper Toluene Tanks,' west of TNT Area A and Short Cut Road and south of Maintenance Road
  • 425 & 435/TNT Area B – 'Middle Toluene Tanks,' northwest of TNT Area B near Taylor Road
  • 645 & 655/TNT Area C – 'Lower Toluene Tanks,' near intersection of Patrol Road and Taylor Road; Tank 645 was moved by NASA to the former Pentolite Area

Underground Wastewater Flumes

Used to carry liquid and solid wastes that accumulated in catch basins located at the wash houses located in:

  • TNT Area A – waste to Pentolite Road Red Water Ponds
  • TNT Area B – waste to Pentolite Road Red Water Ponds
  • TNT Area C – waste to West Area Red Water Ponds

Waste Lagoons

Settling basins in which wastewater was disposed; located north of Pentolite Road

Wastewater Treatment Plants

Each TNT Area contained a wastewater treatment plant used to treat the 'red water,' wastewater from the process of producing TNT

  • Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) 1 – for TNT Area A
  • WWTP 2 – for TNT Area B
  • WWTP 3 – for TNT Area C

Team

Huntington District Corps of Engineers
  • PBOW Project Manager

USACE Huntington District
CELRH-DL-M
502 Eighth Street
Huntington, West Virginia 25701
(304) 399-5388

PBOW@USACE.ARMY.MIL

  • PBOW Technical Coordinator

USACE Huntington District
CELRH-EC-CE
502 Eighth Street
Huntington, West Virginia 25701
(304) 399-5953

PBOW@USACE.ARMY.MIL


Ohio EPA - Northwest District Office
  • OEPA Northwest District Office
347 North Dunbridge
Bowling Green, Ohio 43402
(419) 373-3039

NASA
  • NASA Plum Brook Station
Environmental Coordinator
6100 Columbus Avenue
Sandusky, Ohio 44870
(419) 621-3234

Documents

The FUDS document online search is no longer available.

Information can be found for individual FUDS sites at the following locations:

 

West Virginia Ordnance Works  link:

Location Map

Mason County Public Library

508 Viand St

Point Pleasant, WV 25550

 

Plum Brook Ordnance Works  link:

Location Map

BGSU Firelands Library

One University Drive

Huron, Ohio, 44839

 

 

West Virginia Maneuver Area  link:

Location Map

U.S. Forest Service

2499 North Fork Highway

Petersburg, WV  26847

 

 

If you would like to access documents in the Administrative Records, please contact staff

at the following link to set up an appointment: PBOW@usace.army.mil or call 1-800-822-8413.

 

Written correspondence can also be mailed to:

 

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

c/o FUDS Records Manager

Programs & Project Management (PPM)  

502 8th Street,

Huntington, WV  25701

 

Please allow at least 24 hours advance notice after contacting staff so arrangements can be

made with building security to allow access.