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Keesler holds forum on environmental restoration
Alan Guidry, retired Navy of Lockport, La., tees off on Hole 14 July 31, at the Bay Breeze Golf Course, Keesler Air Force Base, Miss. Hole 14 edges the Back Bay where landfills used to be operated from the 1940s to the late 1960s. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)
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Keesler holds forum on environmental restoration

Posted 8/1/2012   Updated 8/1/2012 Email story   Print story

    


by Susan Griggs
81st Training Wing Public Affairs


8/1/2012 - KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- July 24, Keesler's environmental restoration team provided a public forum at the West Biloxi Library to let the public know about what Keesler is doing to be a good steward of the land it occupies.

"We're continuing to clean up the mistakes of our past which were not considered at the time to be harmful to the environment," said Shane Reed, who serves as environmental restoration program manager at Keesler and Columbus Air Force Base, Miss.

Also involved in the program were Tasha Golson, 81st Infrastructure Division, and contractors Bob Carlisle from CH2M Hill and Bill Lazarz from Bay West Inc.

Keesler personnel work closely with the Environmental Protection Agency's Region 4 and the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality to address Keesler's environmental correction needs.

Seventeen of the base's 24 installation restoration sites have been closed with no further action required, according to Reed.

A military munitions response program site is being pursued under the Research Contributions Recovery Act. In the 1940s, a small arms/skeet range operated in an area edging the Triangle, but the ranges were removed in the 1950s and buildings were constructed there. The buildings came down in the 1990s and a running track was constructed.

Lazarz stated that an RCRA facility assessment was completed in 2009-10, with about 500 soil samples taken in a grid-style framework and three groundwater samples taken from temporary monitoring wells. Some soil samples showed polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon contamination, but PAHs weren't detected in the groundwater samples.

Reed said there's a good chance that soil removal may begin early next year to clear up the site.

Seven other site projects are progressing toward completion, all with protective remedies such as long-term monitoring and land use controls in place.

"None of the sites pose a threat to military or civilian personnel," Reed stressed.

Three landfills operated from the 1940s to the late 1960s are part of the current Bay Breeze Golf Course edging Biloxi's Back Bay.  Protective covers are maintained over all three sites and groundwater is frequently monitored to ensure no releases occur.

One 20-acre site was used from 1950-65 for disposal of office, household and construction debris and tetraethyl lead octane booster sludge. It was reported to hold a low-level radioactive vault containing aircraft navigation dials, but it was never found.

The second landfill, a 12-acre site, was operated in the late 1940s and 1950s. Refuse and paint products were taken there. A project in 2002-03 installed a landfill cover and passive methane gas collection system. Aquatic vegetation was planted and a jetty tube and pilings were constructed in Back Bay to decrease wave erosion of the shoreline and increase sedimentation in the area.

The other 10-acre landfill was used from 1954-70 for refuse, medical and industrial waste. Fire training pits were located there, along with storage areas for asphalt and drums. Shoreline stabilization was employed, along with a low-permeability cover and active methane gas collection system.

Some groundwater contamination also occurred from three former fuel sites with underground storage tanks.

"The groundwater is 99 percent clean from our initial response and we're working to clean the last 1 percent," Reed explained.

Another site is a former silver recovery unit/solvent spill area near a demolished building that used to house the 81st Training Support Squadron's trainer development facility and the base's audiovisual service center before Wall Studio was built. The new aerial port facility is being built adjacent to the site near the flightline.

"This site is also 99 percent clean and we're continuing our efforts to polish off the remaining 1 percent," Reed said.



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