Pacific Southwest, Region 9: Superfund
Serving Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, the Pacific Islands, and Tribal Nations
Norton Air Force Base
EPA #: CA4570024345
County: San Bernardino
City: San Bernardino
Congressional District: 40
Use following URL for future direct access to Norton AFB:
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Description and History
NPL Listing History
NPL Status: Final
Proposed Date: 10/15/84
Final Date: 07/22/87
The 2,165-acre Norton Air Force Base (AFB) site began operations in 1942 and served as a major overhaul center for jet engines and the general repair of aircraft. Past hazardous material management practices included burial of drums and other unspecified materials; disposal of waste oils, solvents, and paint residues into landfills, unlined pits, ponds, and drying beds; storage of contaminants in leaking underground tanks and; spills of gas, oils, solvents, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and acids.
Norton AFB was closed in 1994 according to the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Act of 1990. The aviation facilities of the base were converted into San Bernardino International Airport. Private development on the former base includes several distribution centers and reuse of industrial buildings.
Contaminants and Risks
- Soil and Sludges
Norton's past trichloroethylene (TCE) usage as a common degreasing solvent impacted the soil and upper water bearing zone of a drinking water aquifer. Drinking water is derived mainly from the middle and lower water bearing zones. Soil was also contaminated with dioxin, PCBs and heavy metals including chromium, arsenic and copper. People who accidentally ingest or come into direct contact with contaminated groundwater or soils may be at risk, however controls are in place to prevent this type of exposure. Several City of Riverside drinking wells (Gage Canal Complex) showed TCE levels slightly above the MCL (5 ppb). The Air Force (AF) implemented the Off-Base Water Supply Contingency Plan (WSCP) for well-head treatment at Riverside’s Raub 5 production well that included a monitoring well network.
Investigation and Cleanup Activities
The initial cleanup approach was for quick localized response actions, followed by long-term phases on cleanup of the entire site. After several removal actions were completed, the cleanup management was modified to better support a Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation Liability Act (CERCLA) process approach. Accordingly, two operable units (OU) were established to manage the cleanup. OU1 addressed the TCE groundwater plume both on and off base and the TCE soil source column over the plume in the central base area. OU2 addressed all other basewide sites. The selected remedies for Norton AFB are documented in the OU1 ROD of November 1993, and OU2 ROD of September 2005. Norton AFB achieved construction completion in 2006 and obtained sitewide ready for anticipated use status in 2007.
Norton AFB achieved construction completion in 2006. All remedial actions have been completed for the OU1 and OU2 Record of Decision (ROD). The only ongoing operation and maintenance (O&M) activities are for the groundwater monitoring program and the Site 2 landfill. On base groundwater monitoring continues while monitoring of off base municipal drinking water wells was no longer required as of 2009. In late 2009 and early 2010, the Site 2 landfill cap was modified from a vegetative cap to an asphalt cap for use as a vehicle parking and storage area, to allow for reuse of the area while maintaining protectiveness of the remedy. O&M activities at the Site 2 landfill include landfill gas monitoring, inspections, and cap maintenance. Institutional controls are implemented via deed restrictions for groundwater, the Site 2 landfill, Sites 5 and 19, and Area of Concern 4 to protect human health and the environment.
Post-excavation sampling and closure documentation are being completed for two sites formerly associated with the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) interim status permit that the former Norton AFB had for the Industrial Waste Treatment Plant (IWTP) and Industrial Waste Line (IWL). Closure of the two sites is expected by the end of 2017. Once these sites are closed, the AF and the State will determine requirements, if any, for an IWL RCRA post-closure permit.
Cleanup Results to Date
Cleanup Progress: Since 2009, primary contaminants trichloroethene (TCE) and cis-1,2-dichloroethene no longer exceeded their maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) in the shallower zones of groundwater. However, due to the long term decline in regional groundwater levels, some monitoring wells within the central base area went dry while monitoring results indicated levels were still above MCLs. EPA identified a concern about possible residual vadose zone contamination and the potential for groundwater contamination if groundwater levels return to historical levels. Groundwater monitoring in the central base area continues using deeper monitoring wells and TCE is intermittently detected above the MCL in one or two wells. The fourth 5-Year Review was completed in September 2015, and no new issues were identified for the groundwater; however, new data collected at the Small Arms Range revealed a wider distribution of metals contamination above the California Human Health Screening Levels for residential use than originally believed. The remedy is protective in the short term because no exposures are currently occurring in this area due to access control restrictions; however, this issue resents a long-term protectiveness concern if the official land use control boundaries are not modified to formally document the increase the extent of area under restricted use. The AF plans a removal action in 2017 to address areas of elevated lead outside the current restricted land use boundaries.
Restoration/Reuse Progress: Norton obtained Sitewide Ready for Anticipated Use status in November 2007, and most of the former base is under active reuse. The Inland Valley Development Agency (IVDA) and San Bernardino International Airport Authority (SBIAA) are joint powers authorities that act as the local reuse agency for redevelopment. Other than the airport facilities, most of the remaining property are occupied by large warehouse distribution centers from corporations such as Stater Brothers, Mattel, PEP Boys, Amazon, etc. Information on reuse can be found at http://www.sbdairport.com. On the sbdairport home page, there is a link to Alliance California that provides more details on reuse.
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 Information Repositories
The public information repositories for the site are at the following locations:
Norman F. Feldhym Central Library,
555 West 6th Street,
San Bernardino, CA 92410
See Air Force website for a more complete collection of cleanup and decision documents: http://afcec.publicadmin-Record.us.af.mil.
EPA Site Manager
Mail Code SFD
75 Hawthorne Street
San Francisco, CA 94105
EPA Community Involvement Coordinator
Mail Code SFD
75 Hawthorne Street
San Francisco, CA 94105
EPA Public Information Center
5796 Corporate Avenue
Cypress, CA 90630
RWQCB, Santa Ana Region
3737 Main Street
Riverside, CA 92501
2261 Hughes Ave Suite 155
JBSA Lackland, TX 78236-9853
After Hours (Emergency Response)