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Air Force continues environmental remediation efforts at former Chanute Air Force Base

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas -- Air Force and the Air Force Real Property Agency continue making steady progress in the environmental clean-up and property transfer programs at the former Chanute Air Force Base. To date, the Air Force has transferred more than 1,551 of its 2,174 acres to the Village of Rantoul and private developers.

Since the base's closure in 1993, AFRPA has been committed to the environmental cleanup and property transfer at Chanute. AFRPA prepares property for transfer by identifying environmental sites, determining nature and extent of contamination, and conducting clean-up actions. AFRPA works closely with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. EPA to remediate environmental contamination prior to property transfer. As a result of these diligent efforts to identify and remediate contamination, a total of 81 environmental sites have been identified at the former base.

To date, the Air Force has completed 24 remedial investigation reports covering 80 of the 81 sites. These reports provide detailed analyses of impacted areas. Based on these investigations and with regulatory concurrence, the Air Force closed 24 of these sites requiring no remediation, along with five additional sites projected for closure by March 2009. Current projections indicate 39 of the 47 remaining sites require remediation and all others to be closed with no remediation required.

In addition to working closely with regulatory agencies, AFRPA also coordinates with local redevelopment authority, the Village of Rantoul, to promote productive reuse of the transferred property. In the past two years, the Air Force has transferred 900 acres to the Village, paving the way for airfield improvements and the transfer of Heritage Lake. AFRPA is also working with the Village in its efforts to submit an application for an Economic Development Conveyance for much of the remaining property. This type of transfer can allow the Village to use proceeds from the property towards redevelopment efforts at Chanute.

Recent remediation activities at Chanute include the removal of more than 6,000 linear feet of steam pipes insulated with deteriorated asbestos-containing material (ACM) in the southeast portion of the base. With the planning phase of this project complete, removal of the piping will begin this winter followed by removal of the underlying soils in the spring.

"Though the property containing the pipes is under lease to the Village of Rantoul, the Air Force decided to proceed with the removal and cleanup to protect against exposure and human health concerns," said Paul Carroll, BRAC environmental coordinator for the former Chanute AFB.

"We're very pleased the Air Force has taken the initiative to remove the pipes and the asbestos that went with them," commented Rantoul Public Works Director Greg Hazel.

Also in the works is a project to backfill the Northern Excavation Area (NEA) site near Heritage Lake, restoring the area to its preexisting condition. The Air Force Center for Engineering and the Environment awarded the contract for the project and work will begin in spring of 2009. On December 12, AFRPA announced the award of a base-wide $38.7M performance-based contract for the remaining environmental cleanup, to include remediation of numerous contaminated soil and groundwater sites and capping a former base landfill. The contract will run for eight years with the majority of the remediation work complete by 2014.

AFRPA remains committed to keeping the community informed of environmental remediation activity at the former base. More than 6,000 community members are mailed a quarterly newsletter with information highlighting cleanup progress and an invitation for participation in the Chanute Restoration Advisory Board (RAB). During these quarterly RAB meetings, AFRPA representatives, along with federal and state regulators discuss the environmental program with interested community members. All RAB meetings are open to the public and individuals interested in participating are encouraged to attend the next scheduled meeting: Thursday, Feb 19, 2009, at noon in the Rantoul Business Center at 601 S. Century Blvd.

If you would like more information on the environmental cleanup program or the continuing remediation efforts at the former Chanute AFB, please call 866-725-7616 or e-mail afrpa.pa@lackland.af.mil.