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McClellan on the Move

McClellan on the Move - Former base is now home to new jobs, growing businesses and a bright future

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Dozer working cleanup on McClellan
What's new at McClellan?
While most know that the Air Force base here closed years ago, many don't know how well the redevelopment is going.
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While most know that the Air Force base here closed years ago, many don't know how well the redevelopment is going.

Since closing in 2001, the former McClellan Air Force Base has become a model, both nationally and internationally, for successful environmental cleanup and redevelopment. When the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission announced in 1995 that McClellan would close, the surrounding community feared it was a death knell for the region. Now, some 10 years later, 13,500 employees and many others visit the 240 businesses located here on an average day, more than worked at the base when closure was announced.

To facilitate the rapid redevelopment, the Air Force and their developer McClellan Business Park, implemented a "hot transfer" to immediately lease the entire 3,000-acre base to McClellan Park right after closure in July 2001. That enabled McClellan Park to begin improvements necessary to create a thriving, mixed-use business park. Fences and gateways came down, infrastructure was updated, and buildings were refurbished to welcome the community and bring new jobs to McClellan Park.

In the background of the redevelopment, the Air Force Civil Engineer Center has continued a strong environmental cleanup program. Past disposal practices, spills, and leaks resulted in soil and groundwater contamination. The base closure process includes dealing with these issues as the property is going through redevelopment. And the Air Force remains responsible for the cleanup, even after the base is placed on the closure list.

Today, 14 years post-closure, the Air Force Civil Engineer Center is working to finish environmental restoration at the last remaining sites. This summer, the Air Force is completing cleanup at two locations and beginning work at two others, performing soil excavating, land capping and water treatment.

Some recent major accomplishments in the cleanup are noted below. Community members interested in learning more are invited to attend quarterly Restoration Advisory Board meetings.

Focused Strategic Sites
Cleanup of the Focused Strategic Sites began in 2013 with the excavation of the former landfill known as CS 010 on the west side of the base, and construction of the site's engineered Consolidation Unit. An engineered Combined Cap was installed over four adjacent landfills and a fire training area. Today, the cap is finished and the City of Sacramento Fire Department is using the new access road to reach their adjacent training facility.

In 2014, two additional landfills were excavated and backfilled with clean soil - CS 024 on the southern tip of the base alongside the railroad tracks, and CS 022 next to the Groundwater Treatment Plant on Patrol Road. Trucks carried the excavated soils to the CU for safe, permanent disposal.

This spring, another debris area in the Focused Strategic Sites Project, PRL 008, located just north of the CU, was excavated in one small spot. An engineered cap is being installed over that site.

The Small Arms Firing Range on the northwest side of the base was excavated in 2014. The lead-laden soil was treated with Portland cement to bind the lead before depositing it into the Consolidation Unit. The Air Force coordinated closely with the Northern California Regional Public Safety Training Authority to limit disruptions to their ongoing training for law enforcement agencies.

Ecological Sites
The McClellan Ecological Sites are primarily on the west side of the base. For most of these sites, concentrations did not present a risk to human health. However, they posed a potential ecological risk.

The sites included the former A-1 Metals Facility at the northwest tip of the base, three vernal pools near the Small Arms Firing Range, portions of the IC 17 Seasonal Creek and Drainage Ditch, an off-base segment of Don Julio Creek, a segment of Magpie Creek west of the runway, and tailings piles along Magpie Creek and Don Julio Creek in the West Nature Area. Last summer, the Air Force excavated these areas and disposed of the sediments in the Consolidation Unit.

The creek beds were restored to their previous condition (some are lined and some are unlined) after confirmation sampling verified cleanup objectives had been reached. Impacts to the vernal pools are mitigated through the purchase of mitigation credits.

Privatized Cleanup: Saving Tax Dollars and Building the Community
Privatized cleanup combines redevelopment with property transfer and environmental cleanup to accelerate schedules and reduce costs.

Crafting an early transfer with privatized cleanup is a complex effort that pulls together representatives from the Air Force, the local community, and multiple regulatory agencies. Through a negotiated cost agreement between Sacramento County and the Air Force, the Air Force funds the cleanup program. U.S. EPA then plans and oversees the work, which is carried out by the County's redevelopment partner, McClellan Business Park.

A critical component of the cost negotiations are accurately identifying contaminants and assessing cleanup needed to protect human health and the environment.

The program benefits the Air Force by accelerating property transfer, reducing overall cost, and reducing administrative overhead.

Likewise, the program is significant to the local community. It puts the cleanup and redevelopment schedules under local control and allows the developer to balance their priorities with the cleanup, resulting in an optimized schedule for beneficial reuse and redevelopment.

With McClellan's transformation into a corporate campus, the community has much to be excited about. The small group of Air Force Civil Engineer Center employees overseeing the last remaining Air Force work are working themselves out of job. However, new jobs, growing businesses and a bright future can all be found at the former McClellan Air Force Base.