Environmental Impact Report Released for Antares Rocket Explosio - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Environmental Impact Report Released for Antares Rocket Explosion

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Soil was removed from area around the crater for soil remediation, (outlined in red). (Photo: Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority) Soil was removed from area around the crater for soil remediation, (outlined in red). (Photo: Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority)

WALLOPS ISLAND, Va. - Six months ago, Orbital Science's Antares rocket made national headlines when it lit up the sky just seconds after takeoff from Wallops Island Flight Facility. A new report finds that some of the most serious hazards to the environment were inside the 50 foot crater where the rocket crashed back to earth.

About 15 seconds after takeoff on Oct. 28, 2014, the unmanned Antares rocket carrying supplies for the International Space Station exploded. At first, there were concerns about the explosion's impact not just on launch pad and structures surrounding it, but to the air quality, surrounding soil and groundwater.

A report issued by the Virginia Commercial Spaceflight Authority details various tests and measures taken in the aftermath of the explosion, to test and contain the impact on the environment.

According to the report, water and soil inside and around the 50-foot crater where the rocket crashed were found to have high levels of three fuel-related chemicals, including Perchlorate. Levels of Perchlorate were at one point 600 times the allowed level for drinking water. 

The retention basin, LOX dump pond and ponding areas against the seawall were drained to remove those elevated levels, according to the report. The report also states that as of Dec. 18, 320,000 gallons of water had been removed from the crater and taken to Pennsylvania for proper treatment. 

According to the report, the crater has now been filled, but still has access points to allow for further monitoring and testing as need be. The report listed no impact on the air quality, and only suggested a groundwater study and possible continued monitoring of the area where the rocket crashed on Oct. 28, 2014. 

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