EPA PROPOSES TO DELETE PORTIONS OF THE FORMER FORT ORD FROM SUPERFUND NATIONAL PRIORITIES LIST-COMMENT PERIOD OVER

This comment period is over.  However, you may find this information useful.

NEXT STEPS: Currently, EPA is evaluating comments received during the public comment period. Next, EPA will prepare a Responsiveness Summary to address public comments received. If EPA determines that it is still appropriate to partially delete the site, we will publish a final Notice of Partial Deletion in the Federal Register. Public notices, public submissions, and copies of the Responsiveness Summary will be made available to interested parties and placed in the site Administrative Record.

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On November 20, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a Federal Register notice announcing its proposal to delete 11,934 acres of the 27,827 acre Fort Ord Superfund site, located in Monterey County, California, from the National Priorities List (NPL), also known as the “Superfund list.” This proposed deletion is a partial deletion, in that it deletes only specific acres and contamination where cleanup is complete, as determined by EPA. Superfund regulations allow this type of partial deletion.

Click here to go to the Federal Register.

The proposed partial deletion includes the completed cleanup of military munitions and soil contamination on those 11,934 acres. Groundwater and soil gas contamination cleanup is still underway for these 11,934 acres, and that contamination remains on the NPL. The remaining 15,893 acres of the site, and all contamination associated with those acres, including potential per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination, remain on the NPL. The cleanup work required will happen with EPA and State oversight.

Type of Contamination Deleted from NPL (proposed) Not Deleted from NPL (proposed)

Type of Contamination Deleted from NPL (proposed) Not Deleted from NPL (proposed)
Military Munitions 11,934 acres 15,893 acres
Soil 11,934 acres 15,893 acres
Soil Gas 0 acres 27,827 acres
Groundwater 0 acres 27,827 acres

The Fort Ord Base Reuse Plan was completed in 1997 to help determine cleanup goals that support the future reuses identified in the plan. Much of this property has been transferred from the Army to local jurisdictions. In some cases, the property has already been redeveloped to benefit the community as part of the economic recovery from the closure of the Fort Ord Army base in 1994.

HISTORY

The former Fort Ord Army base is adjacent to Monterey Bay in northwestern Monterey County, California, bordering the cities of Seaside, Sand City, Monterey, and Del Rey Oaks to the south and Marina to the north. Fort Ord served primarily as a base for infantry troops (foot soldiers) beginning in 1917 until closure in 1994. When it was in use, Fort Ord operated like a small city. Military training and base facilities (landfill, sewage treatment plant, etc.) conducted at the base resulted in the release of hazardous substances and pollutants into the soil and groundwater. This included sites where munitions and explosives of concern were found or suspected in the soil. The Army has been conducting investigation and cleanup activities at the former Fort Ord under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (also known as CERCLA or Superfund) since 1990, with the oversight of EPA and the State of California.

STATE APPROVAL

The State of California approved the proposed deletion through letters sent by the Department of Toxic Substances Control and the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board in July 2020. They agree with the EPA’s proposed decision to delete these parcels at the Fort Ord Superfund Site from the NPL, and EPA’s assessment that cleanup is complete on military munitions and soil contamination on 11,934 acres of the site.

 EXTRAS

On November 20, 2020, EPA published a notice proposing a so-called partial deletion of Fort Ord Superfund site, located in Monterey County, from the National Priorities List (NPL) Superfund sites. This partial deletion pertains to 11,934 acres of the total 27,827-acre site, covering only acreage of the site where cleanup work for military munitions and soil pollution is complete. The comment period for the proposed deletion ended on December 21, 2020. This was a consolidated partial deletion proposal that included Fort Ord and 3 other sites nationally.

EPA policy allows for cleaned up areas to be deleted separately from contaminated water and soil gas below the ground. The Partial Deletion Rule, which allows EPA to delete portions of NPL-sites provided that deletion criteria are met, was published in the Federal Register on November 1, 1995. Previously, EPA’s policy had been to delete sites only after cleanup of the entire site had been completed. However, waiting to delete only an entire site did not communicate the successful cleanup of portions of the site. This communication was an important goal because while total cleanup of an entire given site may take many years, portions of the site may be cleaned up and may be available for productive use. Under partial deletion such a portion may be a defined geographic area of the site, or may be a specific medium at the site, e.g., surface soil.

What land above ground in those areas can be used for recreation or development if contaminated water and soil gas below the ground may still exist? All land overlying contaminated groundwater and soil gas at Fort Ord can safely be used for recreation and development, as long as those uses are consistent with the Fort Ord Base Reuse Plan and land use controls specified in property deeds. Contamination levels below ground are monitored regularly to ensure they are safe for the uses specified in that Reuse Plan (development, recreation, habitat, etc.) at ground level.

The partial deletion proposal reflects EPA’s opinion that cleanup is complete for soil and military munitions contamination for 11,934 acres of the site. Cleanup of contaminated groundwater and soil gas throughout the site continues and is deemed to be effective. As final cleanup levels have not yet been reached, however, this contamination cannot be included in the proposed deletion. That said, it’s important to note that much of this property has been transferred from the Army to local jurisdictions and in some cases, has already been redeveloped. In addition, as noted before, contamination levels below ground will continue to be monitored regularly.

The Superfund cleanup remedies for much of the site include land use controls designed to minimize the risks of exposure to prior or current contamination, like digging and excavation ordinances, land use restrictions, and groundwater well exclusion zones, among others. All those land use controls will continue to be implemented and monitored site-wide by local jurisdictions and the Army, with EPA and state oversight, even if parts of the site are deleted from the NPL.

Is there a buffer zone between land that still may have contaminated water and soil gas below ground, and land that does not and has already been developed? No. The proposed deletion does not include a buffer. As stated above, land overlying contaminated groundwater and soil gas at Fort Ord can safely be used as long as those uses are consistent with the Base Reuse Plan and land use controls specified in property deeds. Compliance with the Reuse Plan and land use controls will continue to be implemented and monitored by local jurisdictions and the Army, with EPA and state oversight, regardless of NPL status.

Click here for a Frequently Asked Questions Fact Sheet.

Below is a map of the National Priority List (Superfund) Partial Deletion areas (in pink) and also shows the jurisdictions. If you’d like a larger map, just click on it.

Below is a map of the Fort Ord Jurisdictions. For a larger map, just click on it.