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
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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 6,368-acre Travis Air Force Base is home to the 60th Air Mobility Wing, the 349th Air Mobility Wing, the 621st Contingency Response Wing, and the David Grant Medical Center. Travis Air Force Base participates in the Environmental Restoration Program (ERP), formally the Installation Restoration Program (IRP), 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. 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.
Previously identified contaminated areas include three landfills, four fire training areas where combustible wastes were burned, a radioactive burial site, a solvent spill area that used volatile organic compounds (VOCs) to clean metal parts, and a storm sewer system that may have received contaminants from multiple locations.
Contaminants and Risks
- Surface Water
- Soil and Sludges
- Environmentally Sensitive Area
The groundwater is primarily contaminated with various volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and petroleum products. VOCs were also found in Union Creek, although VOC concentrations decreased after groundwater extraction and treatment (GET) operations commenced. Land use restrictions are in place to mitigate potential risks associated with metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) contamination in soil. Two vapor intrusion assessments concluded that there was no risk associated with contaminated vapors from VOC plumes to base personnel in existing buildings, but land use restrictions are being used to mitigate potential vapor intrusion risks to personnel in facilities that are built in the future over VOC plumes.
People may face a health risk if they accidentally ingest or come in direct contact with contaminated groundwater, surface water, or soil, however restrictions are in place to prevent this from occurring. Contamination could also pose a threat to Suisun Marsh, a major coastal wetland located near the site, if unaddressed.
Who is Involved
This site is being addressed by the Air Force pursuant to a 1990 Federal Facilities Agreement (FFA) with the EPA and two State Regulatory Agencies. A Restoration Advisory Board (RAB) was established by the AF in 1994 to ensure that input from the community is considered in restoration decisions.
Investigation and Cleanup Activities
In 1983, the AF initiated the Installation Restoration Program (IRP), now the Environmental Restoration Program (ERP), to investigate the nature and extent of hazardous waste releases to the environment. Travis AFB was placed on the National Priorities List (NPL) in 1989. Initially, Travis Air Force Base was treated as a single investigative area with one comprehensive cleanup schedule. Between approximately 1983 and 1994 early efforts were conducted to assess the nature of environmental contamination at Travis AFB. Twenty-seven underground storage tanks were initially removed from the base in 1986. Environmental concerns in the East Industrial Area included 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. 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. 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 was no contamination from hazardous or radiological waste.
Over time, several operable units were created to address cleanup of the soil and groundwater sites more efficiently: East Industrial Area (EIOU), West Industrial Area (WIOU), Northeast Corner (NOU), and West/Annexes/Basewide (WABOU). The EIOU, WIOU, and NOU were combined in 1995 into the composite North, East, West Industrial Operable Unit (NEWIOU) to save over $500,000 and a significant amount of time. Interim Records of Decision (ROD) for groundwater contamination were completed at the WABOU in 1999 and the NEWOU in 1997. RODs were completed in 2002 addressing soils at WABOU and 2006 addressing soils, sediments and surface water for the NEWIOU. A Final ROD addressing groundwater sites at both the NEWIOU and WABOU was completed in 2014. A Non Time-Critical Removal Action Memorandum was finalized in 2016 to address soils contaminated with lead and PAHs at a former skeet range.
Remaining areas at the site that have not yet completed investigation activities include the soil and groundwater at former drinking water facilities Site TA500 (potentially contaminated with fluoride), and areas adjacent to soil Site SD031 which were found to be contaminated with VOCs in the soils beyond the previously known contaminated area during installation of a groundwater cleanup technology demonstration in 2015. There are also various soil sites with Land Use Controls preventing certain uses that are being re-investigated to determine if additional cleanup can be done to allow unrestricted use of the property. Finally, the off-base Potrero Hills Annex (currently being investigated under a State Water Board Order #) is contaminated with perchlorate in soils and groundwater.
Please see the sections below for more information about the remedies that have been selected for soils and groundwater sites, and the status of cleanup.
Records of Decision (RODs) for soil remedial actions were selected for the WABOU in 2002 and the NEWOU in 2006 to achieve at least industrial cleanup levels. Land Use controls restricting residential uses were put in place for many sites that did not reach residential cleanup standards. Soil remedial actions in the were completed by December 2007 at most of the sites in the WABOU and NEWIOU according to the soil RODs. 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. Remedial Action Completion for soils was achieved for the WABOU in 2008, and NEWIOU in 2012. Residential cleanup levels (unrestricted land use) were achieved at the majority of the soil sites, and Land Use Controls (LUCs) have been put in place to restrict land use for sites that did not achieve residential cleanup levels.
The AF is currently evaluating additional cleanup measures to restore certain soil sites to residential cleanup levels in order to to remove the requirement for the LUCs restricting non-industrial uses. Proposed Plans to Amend the RODs for the WABOU and NEWIOU were issued to the public for comment in 2015. Additional site characterization was conducted in 2016 by the Air Force to determine the extent of the areas that are above residential cleanup levels, and the risk will be assessed in 2017 prior to issuance of amended Soils RODs.
Interim groundwater remedial actions (IRAs) initiating extraction and treatment to prevent further migration of contamination were selected for the WABOU in 1999 and the NEWOU in 1997. The groundwater IRAs were implemented using a combination strategies, including pump and treat and Monitored Natural Attenuation (MNA) to achieve following interim objectives: source control; migration control and; hydraulic containment for off-base plumes. The treatment systems have been in place since January 1996 and have removed over 15,000 pounds of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). One groundwater site reached cleanup goals and was determined to need no further action.
At the Old Skeet Range (Site TS060), the AF will be conducting a removal of soil contaminated with polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and lead in 2017, according to a Non Time-Critical Removal Action Memorandum decision completed in 2016. Some of the PAH contaminated soil may be treated on-site with a vapor heating technology.
A Proposed Plan identifying cleanup strategies for all groundwater sites to achieve drinking water standards was issued for public comment in 2012. A draft Record of Decision (ROD) was issued in 2013, and a Final Basewide Groundwater ROD was signed by all regulatory agencies in 2014. The Groundwater ROD selects the cleanup remedies for 19 contaminated groundwater sites, including the land use controls that will protect human health and the environment until drinking water standards are reached. Many of the selected remedies use innovative technologies that have been shown to be effective through on-base demonstration projects and apply Green and Sustainable Remediation principles to reduce their carbon footprints and energy usage. For example, injections of emulsified vegetable oil are being used to enhance the natural microbiological activity and address higher concentrations of VOCs through "Enhanced Reductive Dechlorination (ERD)", a process that breaks down VOC contaminants.
The AF initiated fieldwork in 2015 to complete the optimization of various interim groundwater remedial systems to meet the requirements of the final Groundwater ROD. Several of the groundwater treatment systems were fully operational by 2017, and a few of the larger areas have some remaining fieldwork to complete installation of all of the remedy components (such as completing monitoring well networks). All of the groundwater remedies are expected to fully operational by 2019, and some smaller sites may begin to reach cleanup goals within the next few years.
The AF is also conducting additional groundwater treatment technology studies that may lead to improvements to cleanup technologies at the demonstration sites as well as other sites. If a new technology is selected for any of the sites, a modification to the 2014 groundwater ROD would be proposed.
Cleanup Results to Date
The removal of underground storage tanks, decreased groundwater contamination from the operation of groundwater extraction and treatment (GET) systems, and completion of remedial actions at all soil and sediment sites have reduced the potential for exposure to contaminants at Travis AFB. The base constructed a Corrective Action Management Unit (CAMU) on top of a closed landfill to support the cleanup of some soil sites, and the remaining soil sites are managed through land use restrictions.
Plumes at most groundwater sites are decreasing in size and concentration, and the Air Force’s overall groundwater cleanup approach promotes the use of Green and Sustainable Remediation strategies and is documented in the 2014 Basewide Groundwater Record of Decision (ROD). Soil remedial actions at the WABOU and NEWIOU have been completed.
Travis AFB's third 5-Year Review, completed in September 2013, evaluated the effectiveness of the remedies for protectiveness of human health and the environment. EPA concurred that there were no short term protectiveness issues, and that long term protectiveness will be ensured by the selection and successful implementation of groundwater remedies in the Basewide Groundwater ROD. The AF is planning to initiate the evaluation process for fourth 5-Year Review in 2017 so it can be completed by September 2018.
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. At the off-base Potrero Hills Annex Site, additional PRPs include Autoliv and OEA Aerospace.
Documents and Reports
Public Meetings: Travis AFB's Environmental Restoration Program issues a quarterly newsletter "Guardian" and hosts Restoration Advisory Board (RAB) meetings twice a year in Fairfield, CA. For more information, please click the links below:
The Travis AFB Community Involvement Plan and websites are in the process of being updated, and are expected to be finalized by 2018.
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
The Travis Air Force Base Environmental Management web site has electronic copies of newsletters, meeting minutes and various decision documents, and to learn about scheduled public meetings and comment periods-
The Air Force also keeps the administrative record available at the following website-
Air Force Public Administrative Record
California Department of Toxic Substances web page -
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
DTSC: Ben Fries
550 Hickam Ave
Travis AFB, CA 94535
After Hours (Emergency Response)