Science of the Total Environment
Tests of horizontally restrained rocket motors at the ATK facility in Promontory, Utah,USA result in the deposition of an estimated 1.5 million kg of entrained soil and combustion products (mainly aluminum oxide, gaseous hydrogen chloride and water) on the surrounding area. The deposition is referred to as test fire soil (TFS). Farmers observing TFS deposited on their crops expressed concerns regarding the impact of this material. To address these concerns, we exposed corn and alfalfa to TFS collected during a September 2009 test. The impact was evaluated by comparing the growth and tissue composition of controls relative to the treatments. Exposure to TFS, containing elevated levels of chloride (1000 times) and aluminum (2 times) relative to native soils, affected the germination, growth and tissue concentrations of various elements, depending on the type and level of exposure. Germination was inhibited by high concentrations of TFS in soil, but the impact was reduced if the TFS was pre-leached with water. Biomass production was reduced in the TFS amended soils and corn grown in TFS amended soils did not develop kernels. Chloride concentrations in corn and alfalfa grown in TFS amended soils were two orders ofmagnitude greater than controls. TFS exposed plants contained higher concentrations of several cations, although the concentrationswerewell belowlivestock feed recommendations. Foliar applications of TFS had no impact on biomass, but some differences in the elemental composition of leaves relative to controls were observed. Washing the TFS off the leaves lessened the impact. Results indicate that the TFS deposition could have an effect, depending on the amount and growth stage of the crops, but the impact could be mitigated with rainfall or the application of additional irrigation water. The high level of chloride associated with the TFS is the main cause of the observed impacts.
Doucette, William J.; Mendenhall, Scout; McNeill, Laurie S.; and Heavilin, Justin, "The Sky is Falling II: Impact of Deposition Produced During the Static Testing of Solid Rocket Motors on Corn and Alfalfa" (2014). Reports. Paper 676.