The overarching goal of the Navy’s Environmental Restoration Program (ERP) is to protect human health and the environment from past hazardous waste practices and releases at Navy Installation Restoration (IR) sites, Munitions Response Program (MRP) sites, and underground storage tank (UST) sites. The Navy’s ERP at Naval Air Facility El Centro (NAFEC) is managed by the Naval Facilities Engineering Command Southwest in San Diego, California.
The Navy’s ERP has identified 18 IRP sites, four MRP sites, and 202 UST sites at NAF El Centro. Four IRP sites, three MRP sites, and approximately 39 UST sites have ongoing investigations or remedial actions. Fourteen IRP sites, one MRP site, and 79 UST sites have either been eliminated from the ERP or require no further action. As of January 2021, closure has been recommended for 11 UST sites.
The aforementioned sites identified for the Navy’s ERP have been or are currently being addressed under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA). CERCLA, also known as Superfund, was established in 1980 and provides a mechanism for the United States Environmental Protection Agency to clean up sites contaminated with hazardous waste and prevent contamination of future sites by assigning liability to responsible parties.
In 1986, the CERCLA legislation was amended through the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act, which, among other changes, established the Defense Environmental Restoration Program (DERP) which is managed by the Office of the Deputy Under-Secretary of Defense, Installations and Environment. The DERP cleans up hazardous substances, pollutants, contaminants, and military munitions remaining from past activities at military installations and formerly used defense sites.
The Navy is the current landowner of NAF El Centro and the lead federal agency working with the California Department of Toxic Substances Control and Regional Water Quality Control Board, in accordance with CERCLA and RCRA, to collect and evaluate environmental data addressing issues related to past releases at each IRP, MRP, and UST site.
Environmental Restoration Program Background
The identification process for IRP sites was based on locating sites with indications of historical waste disposal operations and hazardous material spills. The purpose of the Navy’s IRP is to reduce the risk to human health and the environment from environmental contamination by moving IRP sites from identification and investigation phases to cleanup and closure phases under the CERCLA process.
The IRP program at NAF El Centro began in 1987 with a preliminary assessment and site inspection that located 16 sites, identified as IRP Sites 1 through 16, with the potential for soil or groundwater contamination from previous site operations. IRP Site 17 was identified in 1988 and IRP Site 18 was added in 2006, bringing the total to 18 sites.
As mandated by the National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2002, the DoD developed the MRP to address military munitions under the ERP. The MRP was initiated specifically to address unexploded ordnance, discarded military munitions, and associated chemical residues referred to as munitions constituents on current and former military installations. The program addresses only closed ranges at these facilities and does not affect any of the active range operations. All four MRP sites identified at NAF El Centro are related to small arms or aircraft firing ranges.
Corrective actions and cleanup for a total of 202 USTs previously containing fuel and other petroleum products are managed under the ERP at NAF El Centro. Reporting of releases is generally followed by an initial abatement or other interim response, after which a site assessment is performed to define the nature and extent of contamination in soil and groundwater. A corrective action plan is then prepared and implemented, followed by verification monitoring, or by either removal of the tank or closure in place.
CLICK HERE for up to date information on the IRP Program. (Coming soon)
CLICK HERE for up to date information on the MRP Program.
CLICK HERE for up to date information on the UST Program. (Coming soon)