The 2,807-acre Alameda Naval Air Station is a closed Navy installation located on Alameda Island, adjacent to the city of Alameda. Solid wastes generated at the site were disposed of in two on-base landfills. All liquid industrial wastewaters generated at the site prior to 1974 were discharged untreated into Seaplane Lagoon and the Oakland Inner Harbor. The Navy, with EPA oversight, has conducted investigations to support development of cleanup decisions for the 35 Installation Restoration (IR) sites.
History of Contamination
Wastes generated at the Site included industrial solvents, acids, paint strippers, degreasers, caustic cleaners, pesticides, chromium and cyanide wastes, waste oils containing PCBs, radium associated with dial painting and stripping, medical debris, and inert and unexploded ordnance.
All liquid industrial wastewaters generated at the site prior to 1974 were discharged untreated into Seaplane Lagoon and the Oakland Inner Harbor. These wastes pose a threat to the surrounding San Francisco Bay aquatic life and a potential threat to terrestrial ecological receptors.
Past activities at the base have resulted in a 3-acre plume of mostly dense non-aqueous phase liquid (DNAPL) contamination at Site 5, with another larger and deeper Dense non-aqueous phase liquids (DNAPL) plume at Site 4. These plumes pose a potential long-term human health threat from inhalation of volatile vapors and possible ingestion of ground water. Remediating these plumes is challenging. The 110-acre Seaplane Lagoon, which received all liquid industrial installation wastes from 1936 to 1974, resulted in contaminated sediment requiring remediation. Wastes generated at the Site included industrial solvents, acids, paint strippers, degreasers, caustic cleaners, pesticides, chromium and cyanide wastes, waste oils containing PCBs, radium associated with dial painting and stripping, medical debris, and inert and unexploded ordnance.
Locations and Status
A short status update for each site is provided below. When multiple sites are grouped together, it indicates that those sites have been combined into one remedial Investigation/feasibility study and one Record of Decision. At this point, one site is still going through the remedial investigation phase of the cleanup, one site requires no further action, four sites are in Record of Decision stage, and 29 sites have signed Records of Decision, with 15 of those sites having no further remedial action required and the remaining 14 currently undergoing remediation.
- Site 1 (Navy Operable Unit [OU] 3): at remedial action stage.
- Site 2 (Navy OU-4A): at remedial action stage.
- Sites 3, 4, 11 and 21 (Navy OU-2B): at Record of Decision stage.
- Sites 5, 10 and 12 (Navy OU-2C): at remedial design/remedial action stage.
- Sites 6, 7, 8 and 16 (Navy OU-1):
- Sites 6 and 16, soil cleanup almost complete; ground water cleanup ongoing;
- Sites 7 and 8, cleanup completed.
- Sites 9, 13, 19, 22 and 23 (Navy OU-2A): at remedial action stage for Site 13 ground water; the rest has been transferred.
- Site 14: undergoing monitored natural attenuation. Site 15: no further action, transferred.
- Site 17 (Navy OU-4B): at remedial action stage.
- Site 20 (Navy OU-4A): no further action, transferred.
- Site 24 (Navy OU-4B): cleanup complete, ready for transfer.
- Site 25: cleanup complete, ready for transfer.
- Site 26 (Navy OU-6): undergoing monitored natural attenuation.
- Site 27 (Navy OU-6): at remedial action stage.
- Site 28 (Navy OU-6): at remedial action stage.
- Site 29 (Navy OU-4A): no further action, transferred.
- Site 30: no further action, ready for transfer.
- Site 31: no further action, ready for transfer.
- Site 32 (Navy OU-4A): at remedial investigation stage.
- Site 33 (Navy OU-4A): no further action.
- Site 34 (Navy OU-4A): cleanup complete, ready for transfer.
- Site 35: cleanup complete, transferred.
- OU-5: ground water cleanup discontinued.
EPA placed the site on the Superfund program’s National Priorities List (NPL) in 1999.
Cleanup & Redevelopment Plans
So far, costs to clean up Alameda have clocked in at $539 million, with an additional $59 million remaining to complete the effort by 2021.
According to a 2018 news article from the San Francisco Chronicle, the community remains concerned about the prospects of redevelopment of the site and its proper handling. A group of citizens are wary of Tetra Tech EC Inc. Tetra Tech EC Inc., a U.S. Navy contractor accused of falsifying or fraudulently manipulating data during the cleanup of San Francisco’s former Hunters Point Shipy ard, was also the contractor at the Alameda base.
Two former Tetra Tech supervisors pleaded guilty to swapping clean soil samples for potentially toxic ones at Hunters Point — a project that is to include more than 10,500 housing units, millions of square feet of office space, schools, a hotel and 300 acres of open space in San Francisco.
According to a Navy spokesperson, here’s their view of Tetra Tech’s handling of Alameda:
Tetra Tech was a contractor who performed environmental cleanup tasks throughout the former NAS Alameda, including Site A, for many phases of environmental investigation and cleanup. The Navy’s internal-review safeguards and the regulatory-review process indicate Alameda data are accurate and the work completed to date at Alameda is protective of human health. Quality assurance and quality control measures, including field oversight and data review by Navy personnel and the regulatory agencies, have been and continue to be in place at Alameda to verify data are accurate and representative of site conditions.
Local developers are looking to tear out much of the old site to replace it with a 70-acre development mixed with residential and commercial areas.
Recent Concerns About PFAS
Alameda NAS is one of over 600 bases checked for PFAS contamination across the country. The Navy tested 30 wells and 16 were found to be above the LHA of 70 ppt. for PFOS/PFOA.
- Date of Discovery: 2017
- Results (PFOS/PFOA)or Range above EPA LHAs: On-base monitoring wells (groundwater): -PFOS+PFOA: 112-336,000 ppt
- Suspected source: Firefighting foam
Groundwater was found to be at 336,000 ppt. That is 4,800 times above the EPA’s nonenforceable limit of 70 ppt. There are no legally enforceable limits for PFAS under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act
- EPA Superfund Site Profile
- Alameda Profile from ProPublica
- ART – Contaminated Lands Document
- Toxic Contamination Found In Alameda — Here’s Where
- Navy says Alameda development site safe, but others worry
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