Thanks to feedback from some of our readers indicating interest in Fort Ord, we decided to take a closer look at the Superfund Site and share a variety of sources for more information.
“I have been following the Camp Lejeune story concerning exposure to volatile chemicals. Fort Ord CA has been on the superfund cleanup program for several years (since the 1990’s) and are still having problems with their clean up program. The EPA and Dept. of the Army have several official documents outlined on their websites stating how the clean began in the 1990’s and is still in progress concerning chemicals like TCE, PCE, vinyl chloride, etc. Veterans who served at Fort CA should be made aware of the possible health problems if exposed to contaminated water, soil/air(plumes).”
Fort Ord, the former US Army post on Monterey Bay in California, closed in 1994 under recommendation from the BRAC commission of 1991. Some of the land has been designated as national monument land while other portions have been considered for commercial development. In exploring a land reuse assessment, various contamination has come to the forefront and been under scrutiny ever since. Cleanup efforts, like those at many of the military bases out there, is slow. Cleanup has been underway since the base was closed.
Fort Ord is one of the most complex waste sites in the country. The groundwater below Fort Ord is contaminated with chemicals that reach past the borders of the Fort and under the City of Marina. The soil is filled with lead, unexploded ordnance, and other debris; and the air is filled with particulate matter and chemicals when the Army conducts annual burns to clear vegetation. The final cleanup decision mandated 100-foot buffer zones around the landfills and munitions response areas to protect surrounding properties; nevertheless, the routes of exposure that follow do present ways the public can still come into contact with the contaminants.
There are forty-five (45) chemicals of concern in the air, soil and water at Fort Ord. These chemicals include heavy metals such as lead and volatile organic compounds like TCE, DCE and Benzene. The chemicals at Fort Ord are known to cause liver and kidney damage, birth defects, respiratory illness, and lower IQ levels in children, among others.
The following is additional information that we could find on Fort Ord compiled from various internet sources.
There are four identified areas of groundwater contamination under the former Fort Ord. The most frequently detected chemicals in three of these areas are trichloroethene (TCE) and carbon tetrachloride (CT) in the remaining area. The suspected sources, locations, main contaminant, and affected aquifers are:
- A burn pit used for fire-fighting practice is the main source of TCE contamination in the A-Aquifer under the former Fritzsche Army Airfield (now the Marina Municipal Airport). This area is called Operable Unit 1 or OU1.
- Waste disposal in the Fort Ord landfill resulted in TCE contamination of groundwater in the A-Aquifer, the Upper 180-Foot Aquifer and the Lower 180-Foot Aquifer. This area is called Operable Unit 2 or OU2.
- Vehicle maintenance activities in the Main Garrison in the vicinity of 1st Avenue and 12th Street resulted in TCE contamination of groundwater in the Upper 180-Foot Aquifer. This area is called Site 2/12.
- Training and equipment maintenance activities in the northern portion of the former Fort Ord (now the Abrams Park housing area) resulted in carbon tetrachloride contamination of groundwater in the A-Aquifer, the Upper 180-Foot Aquifer and the Lower 180-Foot Aquifer. This area is called Operable Unit Carbon Tetrachloride Plume or OUCTP.
Groundwater is contaminated with volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in various locations. One of the contaminated groundwater plumes near the City of Marina migrated off site and has been remediated with no further action required. All the groundwater treatment systems have been constructed and are operational. Contaminated groundwater at Fort Ord is not being used as a drinking water source.
Soils in several vehicle maintenance and motor pool areas, and a 150 acre landfill and some munitions response sites have been contaminated with chemicals that spilled onto the ground. In addition, soils at target ranges are contaminated with lead. These contaminated soils have been addressed, as described below, significantly reducing or eliminating the potential threat to public health.
Munitions and explosives of concern:
Unexploded ordnance and munitions and explosives of concern on an 8,000 acre firing range/impact area and at limited on-site areas may pose safety hazards. Types of ordnance found at Fort Ord include artillery projectiles, rockets, hand grenades, land mines, pyrotechnics, bombs and other demolition materials. The Army has an extensive site security program and they ensure that known munitions sites are fenced, posted with warning signs and are off-limits to unauthorized people.
*Excerpt above from EPA Superfund website and the Fort Ord Cleanup Site
Additional Links & Resources
- EPA Superfund Site Page on Fort Ord: http://yosemite.epa.gov/r9/sfund/r9sfdocw.nsf/ViewByEPAID/CA7210020676
- Fort Ord Cleanup Site: http://fortordcleanup.com/public-meetings/2015-public-meetings/
- Fort Ord Article and Overview: http://1hope.org/hopeblog/fort-ords-toxic-cleanup-tragedy/
- White Paper on Health Effects at Fort Ord (PDF file): https://d10k7k7mywg42z.cloudfront.net/assets/4c6ff7e8dabe9d3e0b000034/ft_ord_health_threats_white_paper_9.14_1.pdf
- CDC – Public Health Assessment of Fort Ord: http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/HAC/pha/PHA.asp?docid=20&pg=2
- Fort Ord Environmental Justice Network: http://www.foejn.org/
Additional Links & Resources Updated 8-2016
- Other EPA Page: https://www3.epa.gov/region9/superfund/fort-ord/
- Army site: http://fortordcleanup.com/
- Cleanup Primer: http://www.elkhornsloughctp.org/uploads/files/1345148838A-Ft-Ord_Env-Cleanup_Primer.pdf
- Overview: http://docs.fortordcleanup.com/cleanupprgrm/superfund.asp