Phoenix Military Reservation (PMR)

The points of contact are the Environmental Division at 301-677-9648 or the Public Affairs Office at 301-677-1361

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What is the Phoenix Military Reservation?

Phoenix Military Reservation (PMR) is located approximately one-half mile west of Jacksonville, Maryland in northeastern Baltimore County. The reservation consists of two parcels of land: the Fire Control Area (FCA) and the Launch Control Area (LCA). The FCA and LCA each occupy approximately 17 acres of land and are one-half mile apart, on adjacent hilltops separated by a valley through which the Greene Branch stream flows. The FCA is the site described below and managed as a sub-installation to Fort George G. Meade. The LCA is no longer owned by the Army and is managed as a Formerly Used Defense Site (FUDS) by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District.


The Phoenix Military Reservation was developed in 1954 as a Nike Ajax missile site. In 1958, the site was modified to support Nike Hercules missiles. In 1966, the Nike missile program was terminated, and the site remained relatively inactive until 1974. In 1974, the Maryland Army National Guard was granted a five-year lease of the property from the U.S. Army. The Guard used the facility as a year-round training ground for its military police. In 1979, the Guard requested, and was granted, a five-year extension. The Guard ceased active operations in 1982. The buildings were demolished shortly thereafter, and the site has remained unoccupied.

Environmental investigations

Historical activities at the Fire Control Area have resulted in the compound trichloroethene (TCE) entering the groundwater. TCE is a common industrial solvent used to remove grease from metal parts. It is also an ingredient in adhesives, paint removers, typewriter correction fluids, and spot removers.

In the 1980s, a series of environmental investigations were conducted by the Baltimore County Department of Environmental Protection and Sustainability and the Army. Soil and groundwater samples were collected, including some from nearby homes, to determine the nature and extent of the site-related compounds in soil and groundwater. TCE was detected in groundwater and found to be migrating off-site; the investigations did not find contamination remaining in the soil. In 1994, the Army funded a water supply system to provide permanent and safe drinking water to the affected homes on Sunnybrook Road. This water supply, known as the Phoenix Community Supply, is not affected by the contamination. The Army continues to investigate and monitor groundwater conditions at the site.

Data from the sampling efforts is detailed in the Remedial Investigation Report, and a Feasibility Study evaluated possible remediation alternatives for the groundwater. In August 2013, the Army distributed a Proposed Plan outlining options for remediating groundwater at the Phoenix Military Reservation. The Army held a meeting during the 30-day public comment period and received comments on the various alternatives.

After careful consideration of the public's comments, the Army selected Directed Groundwater Recirculation, Monitored Natural Attenuation, and Land-Use Controls as the remedy for the groundwater contamination. In October 2013, the Army signed a Decision Document which is a legal document binding the Army to implement this remedy; Maryland Department of the Environment and Baltimore County concurred with the remedy.

Remedy Selected to Provide Best Protection of Human Health and the Environment

The Army selected the alternative of Directed Groundwater Recirculation, Monitored Natural Attenuation, and Land-Use Controls as it will best protect human health and the environment, is implementable and cost-effective, and satisfies the other selection criteria as required by law.

Under this alternative, the Army will remove the groundwater from a single extraction well for treatment at the rate of one to five gallons per minute.
The extracted groundwater will be treated using granular activated carbon vessels. Then the treated groundwater will be re-injected back into the aquifer through a series of three injection wells. The Army anticipates this directed groundwater recirculation to operate for approximately five years.

Following the shutdown of this system, natural attenuation will reduce remaining concentrations of solvents in the groundwater to cleanup goals within a total time of 10 to 15 years from initiation of the action. The Army will sample groundwater quarterly for the first two years of system operation and monitored natural attenuation sampling will be conducted annually for 15 years.

Land-use controls already in place will be maintained and enhanced by installing additional signage, as needed and appropriate. Annual inspections will be conducted to ensure land-use controls remain in good condition.

The Remedial Action Completion Report dated December 2014 documents implementation of the site remediation outline above.  Construction and equipment installation was completed in July 2014 and the system is operating as designed.  Routine maintenance and groundwater sampling is ongoing.

The Army conducted a final community interest reassessment in June 2015. However, community interest for the formation of a Restoration Advisory Board (RAB) was determined to be insufficient. Community members with questions or concerns are encouraged to contact the Program Manager, George Knight at 301-677-7999 or Public Affairs at (301) 677-1361.

Relative Documents