phoenix-goodyear airport area


The Phoenix-Goodyear Airport (PGA) Superfund site is geographically situated approximately 17 miles due west of Phoenix, in the western part of the Salt River Valley in Central Arizona. During EPA’s Remedial Investigation of the site, two distinct contaminant source areas were identified: one centered under the Unidynamics Phoenix Incorporated (UPI) facility north of Yuma Road and the other associated with Goodyear Aerospace/Loral Facility adjacent to the Litchfield Airport (presently known as the Phoenix-Goodyear Airport). Thus, the PGA National Priorities List (NPL, commonly called Superfund) Site now consists of two distinct areas: 1) the former UPI facility, referred to as PGA-North, and 2) the former Goodyear Aerospace/Loral facility, referred to as PGA-South. PGA–North is bisected by US interstate 10 and PGA–South is bounded on the southern side by Highway 85. The two study areas cover a total of 35 square miles. Except for the airport, which is owned by the city of Phoenix, the PGA Site lies almost entirely within the city of Goodyear, Arizona. The City of Avondale occupies about 2 square miles along the eastern border of the site. Current land uses on and near the site include agriculture, residential, and commercial development. Land use trends predict a future increase in residential and commercial development with a corresponding decrease in agricultural usage. The general area within a radius of about 5 miles has a combined population of about 75,000 people including residential development west of the airport. Site History: PGA-South: The United States Navy established the Litchfield Naval Air Facility (NAF) in Goodyear, Arizona in 1943 as an Auxiliary Acceptance Unit. The Unit accepted modified aircraft for the Navy from the Goodyear Aircraft plant located adjacent to the airport. From 1946-1968, the airport’s primary purpose was the preservation and activation of military aircraft. The preservation of aircraft involved treating the engines to repel dust, rust, and moisture and then spraying the aircraft with a protective latex coating that contained a ketone solvent. Stripping off the protective coating required the removal of the latex with a solvent and returning the parts to working order. This process was repeated every six months and the effluent [waste material discharged into the environment] from the process entered drains which discharged directly into the main airport drainage ditch. Up to as many as 2,000 aircraft per year were preserved at the Litchfield NAF. In addition to the preserving and stripping chemicals which were discharged into the drainage channel, it is assumed that other liquid substances generated as a part of routine aircraft maintenance were also discharged. A sample taken of the drainage channel discharge on April 20, 1951 had the following physical characteristics: “...30% dark colored, oily, floating liquid, approximately 5% granular settleable solids and the balance was fairly clear, chrome colored liquid...From the color of the oil free sample, there is no doubt some chromate present.” (Letter dated May 24, 1951 from Process Engineers Inc. To Public Works Office, 11th Naval District, San Diego, CA). In 1952, the Navy upgraded its on-site domestic sewage treatment tank to accommodate secondary treatment, and industrial wastewater from the drainage ditch was diverted to the plant for treatment using a gravity flotation process. Oil and other floatables were skimmed off the top and spread over the airport grounds as weed control. Solvents, such as trichloroethylene (TCE), which are heavier than water, would not be removed in such a gravity separation tank, would remain in the wastewater, and be subsequently discharged back into the drainage channel. In 1968, the Navy transferred ownership of the property to the City of Phoenix, and the airport became the Phoenix-Litchfield Municipal Airport. Goodyear Aerospace Corporation, Arizona Division (GAC) began operations in 1942, at which time it was owned by the United States Government and operated by Goodyear Aircraft Corporation. The plant was closed from 1946-1949, when it was reopened under Goodyear Aircraft Corporation. During the 1940s, aircraft from the Naval Air Facility were brought into the hangars of the plant for machining of parts and parts installation. This included cleaning engines with solvents prior to maintenance work. More recently, major operations at the facility have included the manufacture of electronics equipment, transparent products such as windshields, structural equipment such as the MX missile transporter, and aluminum shelters. The major waste streams generated at Goodyear Aerospace have been: solvents (trichloroethylene, trichloroethane, acetone, etc.); chromate sludge from chrome plating operations; acids (sulfuric, hydrochloric, chromic, acetic, and hydrofluoric); process waste waters (cooling waters, boiler blowdowns, etc.); and domestic sewage. Three on-site sludge ponds were used for waste disposal. Site History: PGA-North: Unidynamics Phoenix, Inc. was established in 1963 as a research, development, and manufacturing plant for defense and aerospace equipment. Typical products included: separation and recovery systems (safing, arming, and fusing devices), destruct systems (pyrotechnic devices), and munitions. The primary operations at the plant included manufacturing rocket propellant, processing and blending powder, assembling ordinance, machining, testing explosives, ballistics and related functions. Contaminants of concern from operations on-site include perchlorate (the primary chemical ingredient of solid rocket propellant) and VOCs such as TCE which were associated with waste disposal at the UPI facility. Eleven dry wells and two unlined oxidation ponds were used at the facility for direct on-site disposal of most wastes up until 1980. Prior to 1978, all waste solvents were disposed of on-site in four dry wells outside and to the west of the manufacturing facility. The two oxidation ponds were used for on-site disposal of washing and cooling water with traces of process chemicals, oils, and powder. Wastes generated by the facility have included: trichloroethylene, toluene, acetone, methanol, cobalt nitrate, ammonium carbonate, perchloric acid, and fuel oil.

Hazardous Ranking Score

46 / 100

A score of 28.5 or higher qualifies a site for the Superfund National Priority List.

Regional Contact

Region 9
Phone: (415) 947-4251

Contact Region



Site Inspection
Preliminary Assessment
Final Listing On NPL

Contaminants & Health Effects

      Endocrine Disrupter
      Reproductive Toxin
      Persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic


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