Army Privatizes $100 Million Fort Ord Explosives Cleanup

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK

    MONTEREY, California, August 13, 2008 (ENS) - The largest privatized cleanup of a Superfund site in the nation is about to happen at the former Fort Ord, a U.S. Army base on Monterey Bay that was closed in 1994.

    The Army will contract out cleanup of nearly 3,300 acres on the former base to the Fort Ord Reuse Authority at a cost of $100 million under a state-federal-military agreement finalized Tuesday.

    Established in 1994 as a corporation of the state of California, the Fort Ord Reuse Authority is governed by a 13-member Board consisting of elected officials from the local jurisdictions. Its purpose is to prepare, adopt, finance and implement a redevelopment plan for the property.

    Once utilized as a field artillery target range, the base site now is slated for residential and commercial uses and for expansion of the California State University at Monterey Bay.

    But the cleanup is a matter of life and death. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency placed the site on the Superfund List in 1990 due to the presence of unexploded ordnance on the surface and just below the surface of the land.

    The agreement among the EPA, the California Department of Toxic Substances Control, the U.S. Army, and the Fort Ord Reuse Authority provides that the base transformation will be handled by an independent party that will conduct the cleanup in conjunction with redevelopment with government funding.

    Under the Superfund law, the military service that operated the base is responsible for implementing the cleanup. The deal provides that Monterey County will implement the cleanup with the oversight of EPA and the state under a Federal Facilities Agreement.

    Fort Ord Reuse Authority will be responsible for remediating the 3,283 acre privatization parcel, about one-eighth the area of the former base.

    "By addressing cleanup and redevelopment in tandem, properties can more quickly and more efficiently be returned to productive use," said Wayne Nastri, administrator of EPA's Pacific Southwest region.

    "This innovative cleanup approach is a great example for revitalization projects at closing bases across the country," he said.

    Outside the privatization parcel, the Army will continue to conduct ordnance cleanup on the 8,000 acre impact range before it is transferred to the Bureau of Land Management for a habitat reserve that will have limited public access.

    Other portions of the base have already been transferred into other uses.

    In 1994, the Army transferred 1,300 acres to the California State University system as the site of the new California State University at Monterey Bay. By the fall of 2005, it was an accredited university with some 4,000 students.

    More recently, the Army transferred almost 900 acres of beachfront property to the California State Parks system as the future home of the Fort Ord Dunes State Park, with park land, hiking trails and four miles of ocean beach.

    Nastri says the deal reached on the Fort Ord property can serve as a model for other shuttered military bases and other Superfund sites across the country.

    At Ford Ord, the U.S. Army will issue proposed plans outlining the preferred cleanup alternatives and will seek public comment on these proposals. But not until after the different sites under privatization have been characterized and the cleanup options have been evaluated.

    {Photo: Both exploded and unexploded ordnance litters the ground at Fort Ord courtesy U.S. EPA}

    Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2008. All rights reserved.