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Completion of Former Kelly AFB's Largest Environmental Cleanup Project Paves the Way for Whole Base Transfer

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-Lackland, Texas -- With the pending conclusion of two major environmental cleanup projects at the former Kelly Air Force Base, the Air Force Real Property Agency (AFRPA) nears readiness for completion of whole base transfer to the local redevelopment authority, Port San Antonio. AFRPA is the Air Force agency responsible for environmental cleanup and property transfer program at the former Kelly AFB, and has worked with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, and the local community to complete the environmental cleanup.

Demonstrating the Air Force's commitment to protecting human health and the environment, AFRPA utilized innovative remediation technologies to completing the environmental cleanup of Kelly AFB as quickly as technology allows. This marks the seventh anniversary of the base's realignment and closure.

Site MP

Site MP, the largest remediation project at the former Kelly AFB to date, includes the excavation of contaminated soil just outside Building 171. Nicknamed "the big dig", the excavation site is larger than a football field at approximately 300' x 300' and is up to 50' deep in some areas.

Site MP was originally the location of two automotive maintenance shop buildings. Both buildings were later modified to support metal plating operations. The building was later demolished in 1981 and in 1998 it was determined that commonly-used cleaning solvents from Site MP leaked into the shallow groundwater. These cleaning solvents subsequently formed a pool of DNAPL (dense non-aqueous phase liquid).

"Through partnering with the Environmental Protection Agency, the City of San Antonio, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, and the Air Force Center for Engineering and the Environment, we are one step closer to returning this valuable resource to the community," said Bob Moore, AFRPA Director. "Less than a year after awarding the project, we were able to take what was a dirty, contaminated site, and turn it into a usable piece of property that will serve over 2,000 people."

Excavation of the soil to remove the DNAPL began in January 2009. Tetra Tech, an architectural and engineering firm, was contracted to coordinate work site activities and to ensure the protection of human health and the environment. Real time monitoring of field personnel exposure to vapors was conducted to ensure compliance with the site specific Health and Safety Plan.

Following excavation, a carbon source consisting of a mixture of gravel, mulch, compost, and vegetable oils was placed on the pit floor for continued destruction of residual contaminants within the groundwater. The Air Force will continue conducting annual Groundwater Monitoring for up to three years.

Building 301

The site of yet another former metal plating facility, Building 301 was demolished in 2002. Chlorinated solvents from the building had been released into the underlying soil and shallow groundwater. Cutting-edge Electric Resistive Heating Technology is currently being used at this site to remove volatile and semi-volatile containments.

This innovative system utilizes electrodes placed in the ground throughout the contaminated region to heat the contaminants in the soil; as the subsurface is heated contaminants are vaporized. They are then removed by a soil vapor extraction system. Calculations indicate that over 1,200 lbs of chlorinated solvents have been removed to date.

Cleanup at this site is nearly complete, and it is anticipated that the site will be restored and available for use by the end of August 2009. CAPE, Inc., an a environmental engineering firm, installed and operates the ERH system.

The Air Force invites interested members of the public to attend the meetings of the Restoration Advisory Board. This group of interested community members meets with the Air Force and regulatory representatives quarterly to discuss the cleanup program. The next Kelly RAB meeting will be held July 14 and 6:30 p.m. For location, please call (210) 925-0956.

The Air Force Real Property Agency is responsible for remediation and property transfer at 40 former Air Force installations throughout the U.S. under the Base Realignment and Closure program. At the height of the BRAC process, AFRPA managed 87,000 acres, or about 137 square miles of property. In the two decades since the first BRAC in 1988, the agency has transferred 87 percent, or more than 116 square miles of land - twice the area of Washington, D.C. - back to communities for public use. Throughout the transfer process, the Air Force remains committed to protecting human health and the environment.