News>Andersen saves $25 million with contamination cleanup concept
Gregg Ikehara (center) explains the restoration details of Site 14 to Col. Donald Drechsler (left) 36th and Lt. Col. Christopher Carter at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. Site 14 was contaminated with harmful substances such as polychlorinated biphenyl and asbestos and is one of 80 sites Andersen AFB officials are required to restore by 2014. Ikehara is a 36th Civil Engineer Squadron environmental restoration manager, Dreschsler is the 36th Wing vice commander and Carter is the 36th CES commander. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Robert Hicks)
Site 14 was contaminated with harmful substances such as polychlorinated biphenyl and asbestos and is one of 80 sites officials at Andersen AIr Force Base, Guam, are required to restore by 2014. After the affected soil was removed, members of the 36th Civil Engineer Squadron sloped dirt around the original area and constructed a trench to divert storm water away from the site so as not to risk trace amounts of contaminated soil flowing over the edge of the cliff. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Robert Hicks)
An aerial view shows Site 14 before restoration began. The site was contaminated with harmful substances such as polychlorinated biphenyl and asbestos since the 1970s when it was used as a construction waste site. (Courtesy photo)
by Senior Airman Robert Hicks
36th Wing Public Affairs
3/11/2013 - ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- The 36th Civil Engineer Squadron Environmental Flight is currently working on containing contamination to protect the environment at Site 14 on Andersen Air Force Base.
The site, located in the southeastern corner of the base, was contaminated with harmful substances such as polychlorinated biphenyl and asbestos since the 1970s when it was used for a construction waste site. The cleanup effort is estimated to be completed later this month.
"Before we started the project, our biggest worry was if the contaminated soil had gone over the cliff edge and infected the marine biology below," said Gregg Ikehara, 36th CES environmental restoration manager. "We did find some small concentrations of PCBs in the fish tissue, but it did not trigger any risk to the occasional fisherman."
Ikehara added that the Site 14 area is part of the Pati Point Preserve, which means certain activities, such as fishing, are restricted to protect coral reef habitats and aquatic animals.
After brainstorming about ideas to do away with the contaminated soil, the environmental flight developed a cost-effective plan that would save the Air Force millions of dollars.
All of the affected soil was removed from Site 14 and buried in an engineered cell at an on-island base consolidation unit and sealed to prevent further contamination. Rather than sending the soil back to the U.S. for processing, the environmental flight saved the Air Force approximately $25 million, Ikehara said.
After the affected soil was removed, they sloped dirt around the original area and constructed a trench to divert storm water away from the site, so as not to risk trace amounts of contaminated soil flowing over the edge of the cliff.
During the early 1990s, the Environmental Protection Agency identified Andersen on the National Priorities List. Since then, Andersen has been mandated by Congress to have a remedy in place for 80 sites by 2014.
The National Priority List identifies known releases or threatened releases of hazardous substances, pollutants or contaminants throughout the United States and its territories.
The sites on Andersen consist of chemical weapons storage areas, landfills, firefighting training areas and other items that can affect the environment through releases or mishaps.
Restoring sites here has been an ongoing process since 1993. Including the restoration to Site 14 Team Andersen is down to its final eight sites.
The expected completion date of those remaining eight sights is 2014.
"Team Andersen is fully dedicated in protecting the environment by promoting conservation and sustainable actions throughout the 36th Wing," said Joe Vinch, 36th CES Environmental Flight chief. "Environmental stewardship is everyone's responsibility."
3/14/2013 2:43:44 PM ET I would hope that we restore to pristine conditions since elevated PCB levels are already in the aquatic environment. The next question would be to what extent is the PCB contamination filtering into the water table and contaminating the aquifers Volcanic soils are very porous and the chance for contaminating a fragile aquifer is high. Both the aquatic species and the aquifers need to be protected.
SNCO Ret, Scott
3/14/2013 9:10:58 AM ET I did a little HUMIT research with some people who've worked with this project and found that the plan since this project began was to use the landfill on the base for all contaminated soil due to the cost to send it off the island. So how is following through with what was planned 20 years ago a cost savings Someone at some point decided to get a quote for the known expensive route and then decided to use that quote as a comparison. They probably even got someone along the way to give them money for it. Then not chosing to pay for the 25M option somehow becomes a savings. Current policy is that if there was money allocated it's still going somewhere... we now get to keep what we 'saved.' I guess I'll stretch a point to make a point and go save 100K right now by grabbing some coffee out of the snack bar verses having it ground for me on the International Space Station brewed by a trained monkey and served by a hired servent at my cubicle.
AF Trained Biologist, Scott AFB IL
3/13/2013 12:09:46 PM ET I wonder what level they're taking the site back to There's different standards for different future uses IAW the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969. An agency has options in regards to feasible alternatives to site remediation. The Supreme Court has even backed this up in Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Corp. v. NRDC 1978 Marsh v. Oregon Natural Resources Council 1989 and Department of Transportation v. Public Citizen 2004. I wonder if the initial quote was for restoration to back ground levels. Since Site 14 is within the Pati Point Preserve restoration to recreational levels would be appropriate. This assumes more limited exposure criteria and costs a whole lot less. If not then there's even more money here that could be saved.