Pacific Southwest, Region 9: Superfund
Serving Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, the Pacific Islands, and Tribal Nations
Travis Air Force Base
EPA #: CA5570024575
Congressional District: 03
Use following URL for future direct access to Travis AFB:
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Description and History
NPL Listing History
NPL Status: Final
Proposed Date: 07/14/89
Final Date: 11/21/89
Established in 1943, the 5,025-acre Travis Air Force Base serves as Military Air Command Headquarters to the 22nd Air Force, as well as a medical center. The Air Force has identified a number of potentially contaminated areas. These include: three landfills used from 1943 to 1977, one of which (Landfill No. 3) was used for the disposal of crushed and rinsed pesticide containers; areas where combustible wastes were burned for firefighting exercises from 1943 to the mid-1970s; a pit where 250 pounds of cyanide were buried in 1967; a solvent spill area where various volatile organic compounds (VOCs) may have been spilled during paint stripping operations; and the storm sewer system, one of the most contaminated portions of the base, where chemical wastes from the various shops were dumped throughout the history of the base. The old decommissioned sewage treatment plant is also of concern because cracked oxidation ponds may have contaminated the groundwater with pesticides and industrial chemicals. Approximately 27,600 people live within one mile of the site, and 400 people obtain drinking water from wells within three miles of the base. The nearest well lies 3,400 feet from the base. A spill of jet fuel in 1978 killed all aquatic wildlife along two miles of Union Creek. The creek flows one mile to Hill Slough, which is a branch of Suisun Marsh, a major coastal wetland. Because Hill Slough is tidally influenced, any contamination can reach San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean. Suisun Marsh is widely used for various recreational activities and is a major stop for migratory birds on the Pacific Flyway.
Potrero Hills (PH): PH is a Travis AFB annex with on-going perchlorate groundwater contamination caused by private parties. The Water Board is the sole regulatory oversight at PH for the private cleanups, and AF plans to eventually develop an institutional controls (IC) ROD for PH when Water Board completes their enforcement order. PH was pulled from the WABOU Soils ROD in 2000 and all parties agreed then to address it under CERCLA in a subsequent separate ROD. EPA documented the related agreement in a MOU letter to AF dated January 10, 2000.
In October 2009, Water Board confirmed they accepted the surface soil cleanup for lead, but extent of perchlorate groundwater contamination remains an issue. Water Board stated the PRP's workplan to address DCE through a passive soil gas survey proposal was inconclusive. Since there are no receptor issues, it’s a low priority for the Water Board and their enforcement order may not be completed until 2014. EPA encouraged AF to work with the Water Board to pursue a no further action determination as that would be the most efficient management approach forward.
Contaminants and Risks
- Surface Water
- Environmentally Sensitive Area
The groundwater is contaminated with various volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and heavy metals. Heavy metals, VOCs, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) were detected in stormwater sewers and surface water. VOCs were found in Union Creek. People may face a health risk if they accidentally ingest or come in direct contact with contaminated groundwater or surface water. Contamination could pose a threat to Suisun Marsh, a major coastal wetland located near the site.
Investigation and Cleanup Activities
Initially, Travis Air Force Base was treated as a single investigative area with one comprehensive cleanup schedule. Over time, several operable units were created to address cleanup of the soil and groundwater sites more efficiently.
Initial Actions: Twenty-seven underground storage tanks were removed from the base in 1986.
East Industrial Area: Environmental concerns in the East Industrial Area include four fighter training areas, a gas station complex, an inactive sewage treatment plant, a jet fuel spill area and solvent spills. The Air Force began investigating the nature and extent of contamination at these areas in 1990.
Northeast Corner: The northeast corner of Travis Air Force Base is composed of two landfills that operated from 1942 to 1974. The landfills were primarily used to dispose of base refuse. The Air Force began investigating these landfills in early 1994
West Industrial Area: The West Industrial Area consists of a skeet range, two small arms training ranges, solvent spill areas, former landfill sites, a 1950 B-29 crash site, and buildings that formed the Fairfield Air Force Station. After a thorough investigation of the B-29 crash site, Air Force concluded there were no contamination from hazardous or radiological waste. The Air Force began investigating the landfills in mid-1994. This was combined with the above 2 operable units (OUs) to form the single "NEWIOU" to save over $500,000 and a significant amount of time.
Remaining Areas: Remaining contaminated areas at the site include the former West Zone and 11 non-contiguous annexed parcels. The annexes are parcels of land, located apart from the main installation, that come under the jurisdiction of the Travis Base Commander. In addition, other contaminated areas identified in the future that are not associated with the areas described above will be addressed under this action. The Air Force is conducting cleanup in these areas under State oversight.
Soil remedial actions were completed by December 2007 at most of the sites in accordance with the two Records of Decision (ROD) for the following Operable Units (OU): North/East/West Industrial OU (NEWOU); and West/Annexes/Basewide OU (WABOU). Most of the contaminated soil were excavated and consolidated to an area called a Corrective Action Management Unit (CAMU). Soil with contaminant concentrations that exceeded the CAMU acceptance levels were taken to an approved off-base disposal facility. EPA concurred with Air Force's Soil Remedial Action Report (RAR) in September 2008 that documented completion of the soil cleanup efforts at sites SD045, FT003, FT004 and LF007E, including completed actions for the Corrective Action Management Unit (CAMU). EPA's concurrence was on the condition that another RAR be submitted to document future completion of the following soil sites: FT005, SD001, and SD033 as they were deferred due to funding constraints. Air Force agreed to submit a new RAR when appropriate. The last soil action, FT005, was completed in 2011, and the final RAR was completed in 2012.
Groundwater interim remedial actions (IRA) are being conducted at multiple sites through two groundwater Interim RODs. The groundwater IRAs are a combination of pump and treat with using Monitored Natural Attenuation (MNA) to achieve following interim objectives: source control; migration control and; hydraulic containment for offbase plumes. The treatment systems have been in place since January 1996 and have removed over 15,000 pounds of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The Proposed Plan was completed in October 2012, and a final groundwater remedy is be to decided in early 2013.
Air Force operates three groundwater treatment plants and is evaluating how to optimize the North groundwater treatment plant since it has achieved little results while consuming substantial amount of energy due to the already significant drop in mass overtime. Air Force's goal is to transition 3 sites (SD031, FT004, LF007C) to MNA if the rebound study show contaminate levels remain low after plant showdown.
Several green remediation pilot projects have been implemented at various ground water sites for treating TCE. At Site DP039, current projects include a bioreactor with a solar powered pump installed in Nov 2008 and the phytoremediation study that started 1998 with Eucalyptus trees. In optimizing other groundwater sites, AF is injecting vegetable oil to promote biodegradation process, but EPA has requested that where vinyl chloride (VC) is an issue from the TCE breakdown process, Air Force should also consider other better remedies such as in-situ chemical oxidation.
As part of the requirement for developing the final basewide groundwater ROD, the Air Force is conducting a vapor intrusion assessment study to determine if there are indoor air concerns that may have to be addressed by the ROD. The vapor intrusion assessment was completed in 2010.
Travis Air Force Base is participating in the Installation Restoration Program, a specially funded program established by the Department of Defense (DOD) in 1978 to identify, investigate, and control the migration of hazardous contaminants at military and other DOD facilities.
Cleanup Results to Date
The removal of underground storage tanks, decreased groundwater contamination from treatment systems, and completion of remedial actions at some soil sites have reduced the potential for exposure to contaminates at Travis AFB. The cleanup of all soil sites except FT005 have been completed and most groundwater sites with TCE show the plumes are decreasing. Air Force provided an overall groundwater cleanup approach that supports a basewide groundwater ROD for completion in 2013.
Travis AFB's second 5-Year Review was completed in September 2008 which evaluated the effectiveness of the remedies for protectiveness with human health and the environment. EPA concurred that there were no short term protectiveness issues, but long term protectiveness will depend on results of the current vapor intrusion study and adequate selection of remedies in the upcoming basewide groundwater ROD.
Potentially Responsible Parties
Potentially responsible parties (PRPs) refers to companies that are potentially responsible for generating, transporting, or disposing of the hazardous waste found at the site.
The Air Force is the PRP for the site.
Documents and Reports
Public Meetings: Travis AFB hosts Restoration Advisory Board (RAB) meetings twice a year in Fairfield, CA. For more information, click here to access the RAB web site.
Public Information Repositories
The public information repositories for the site are at the following locations:
Mitchell Memorial Library, 510 Travis Avenue (Building 436)
Travis AFB, CA
Vacaville Public Library,
1020 Ulatis Drive
Fairfield-Suisun, Community Library,
1150 Kentucky Street
EPA Site Manager
75 Hawthorne Street
San Francisco, CA 94105
EPA Community Involvement Coordinator
75 Hawthorne Street
San Francisco, CA 94105
EPA Public Information Center
DTSC: Jose Salcedo
411 Airmen Dr., Bldg 570
Travis AFB, CA 94535
After Hours (Emergency Response)