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Remediation at Federal Facilities

Describes partnerships with communities and state and federal agencies to clean up federal facilities.

The TCEQ works in partnership with the Department of Defense and others to clean up sites. One positive outcome is conversion of military bases to civilian use. The TCEQ also works with the Department of Energy and other agencies to clean up the Pantex Nuclear Weapons facility.

The Defense and State Memorandum of Agreement (DSMOA) Program

The establishment of the Texas DSMOA program in January 1992 marked the beginning of a partnership between the state and Department of Defense (DOD) installations. Mutual goals and an understanding of each others' program has created a synergy with many positive impacts on the DOD cleanup program. Under this federal grant the state fulfills three major responsibilities:

  • Provide timely review and comment on cleanup documents;
  • Provide timely technical and regulatory assistance; and
  • Participate in public education activities including Restoration Advisory Boards (RABs), public meetings, and other forums.

Under the DSMOA program TCEQ provides oversight of contaminated site cleanups for 16 DOD active major installations, seven Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) facilities, one voluntary military closure, 50 Formerly Used Defense Sites (FUDS), and eight National Guard and Reserve Centers. With environmental jurisdiction over cleanups at almost all military installations in Texas, TCEQ sets the performance standards these installations must satisfy to ensure protection of human health and the environment. The partnerships formed under this program have had many positive impacts on installation cleanup programs including:

  • Saving Money - Figures obtained from installation environmental staff indicate that well over $100 million in cleanup costs have been avoided by state participation in the cleanup process under the DSMOA program.
  • Accelerating Cleanups - Agency response times for review and comment on cleanup plans and reports have been reduced. As a result, installations can meet accelerated schedules leading to expedited cleanups, or expedited transfer of Federal land for private development.
  • Building Community Trust - TCEQ involvement on Restoration Advisory Boards (RABs) has been shown to increase the credibility of installations' cleanup programs with the public. Our involvement also assists RABs with understanding the interplay of funding limitations and cleanup priorities.
  • Staying in Compliance - Open communication has provided the installations with a clear understanding of this agency's regulatory requirements and performance standards. This awareness by the installation has allowed them to take appropriate response actions and avoid costly and divisive litigation and enforcement activity which would likely have resulted in fines and penalties as well as caused delays to the cleanup program.
  • Maximizing use of limited cleanup funds - State DSMOA program staff work closely with base environmental staff and RABs to prioritize sites based on risk, thereby achieving maximum protection of human health and the environment per cleanup dollar spent.

Conversion of Military Bases to Civilian Use

Since 1991, eight of the 23 major military installations in Texas have been targeted for either closure or realignment under the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) program, or for voluntary closure by the DOD. Early reuse and redevelopment of these bases is essential to economic revitalization of affected communities, and was the primary goal of the federal government Base Closure Community Reinvestment Program. A key element of that program provides for Fast Track Cleanup, which is designed to make contaminated property available for reuse as quickly as possible, either by transfer of uncontaminated or remediated parcels or by lease where remediation is underway.

TCEQ recognizes its crucial role in Fast Track Cleanup. Partnerships created between the commission, DOD, and EPA, known as BRAC Cleanup Teams (BCTs), have been created for each closing installation. The BCTs have been highly effective in streamlining cleanups thereby expediting the transfer and leasing of property to communities for reuse and redevelopment.

Cleanup/Reuse Successes at Closing or Realigning Installations

Reese AFB - The cleanup at Reese AFB is perhaps the fastest within the Air Force. Reese AFB closed in September 1997 and the last remedy was implemented in September 1999, only 24 months after closure. A major reason for this success is the effectiveness of the Reese BRAC Cleanup Team (BCT), including initiatives that have streamlined the regulatory review process. The Air Force has attributed cost savings of over $6 million to the efforts of the BCT.

Bergstrom Air Force Base - The conversion of Bergstrom AFB into a major civilian airport is the largest military conversion of this kind in recent history. The Austin-Bergstrom International Airport represents a perfect match between meeting the needs of the community and making closing military installation facilities available for reuse.

Kelly AFB - Final remedies are in place and successfully operating for several groundwater plumes. Ongoing optimization of existing remediation systems are also reducing the cost and duration of the final cleanup. Redevelopment goals are being met.

Dallas Naval Air Station - All installation property has been either transferred or realigned. Cleanups are complete at 95% of the sites.

Red River Army Depot - Environmental restoration efforts are currently on schedule. BRAC property boundaries have been redefined to ensure that the excess property is marketable.

Chase Field Naval Air Station - All cleanup has been completed and all real property transferred. The civilian work force of 1600 is twice the number of civilians employed while an active base.

The Pantex Subgrant Program

The Pantex Subgrant Program is a six-year agreement between the Department of Energy (DOE) and the state of Texas Office of Energy Conservation. It is also a joint venture between several state agencies and local governments who have regulatory authority to monitor the Pantex Nuclear Weapons Facility located near Amarillo, Texas. One of the objectives of this subgrant is to provide a mechanism for further involvement by Texas in the DOE cleanup of the Pantex facility. As a facility subject to a Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) hazardous waste permit, Pantex is required to implement a corrective action program, which includes evaluating the nature and extent of any releases of hazardous substances and taking appropriate corrective measures to protect human health and the environment. Responsibilities of commission staff under this portion of the subgrant are identical to those of the DSMOA program, namely:

  • Provide timely review and comment on cleanup documents;
  • Provide timely technical and regulatory assistance; and
  • Participate in public education activities including restoration advisory boards (RABs), public meetings, and other forums.