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Buckley Air Force Base

 

Buckley AFB location map

Buckley Air Force Base is located in the City of Aurora, Colorado, approximately six miles to the east of Denver. It is an active air base bordered by 6th Avenue on the north, State Highway 30 on the east, Airport Boulevard on the west, and Jewell Avenue extension on the south. The Base encompasses approximately 3,328 acres.

 

Aircraft on Buckley AFB ramp 1980 The base opened in 1942 as a training facility for B-17 and B-24 bombardier and armorer training. During World War II, Buckley was an auxiliary field for Lowry Air Force Base and in 1946 was transferred to the Colorado Air National Guard. In 1947, the US Navy took over and renamed the facility as the Naval Air Station Denver, Colorado. The Navy decommissioned the Air Station in 1959 and the US Air Force took over responsibility for the property. In 1960, the Air Force licensed the property to the State and the installation became Buckley Air National Guard Base.

 


Air Force Space Command took over the base in 2000, converting it to an Air Force Base and the mission now includes space-based military communications, missile tracking  and services for transient military aircraft. Buckley Air Force Base, hosted by 460th Space Wing, is undergoing many new construction projects and is now home to 77 tenants including:

 

  • Aerospace Data Facility

  • 140th Wing, Colorado Air National Guard (home of the F-16 "Fighting Falcons")

  • Colorado Army National Guard Aviation Support Facility

  • Naval Operations Support Center

 

For more information, visit: Major Tenant Organizations Factsheet

The Air Force is responsible for environmental restoration activities at Buckley Air Force Base. These activities include identifying, investigating and cleaning up contamination associated with past activities at the facility. The Air Force's Environmental Remediation Program (ERP) falls under the Defense Environmental Restoration Program (DERP).

 

There are two Environmental Remediation Program components at Buckley Air Force Base:

 

  • Installation Restoration Program (IRP) where hazardous wastes, substances or pollutants, radioactive wastes, and/or petroleum were released

  • Military Munitions Response Program (MMRP) where munitions and related contamination were released at closed ranges occurred

 

These programs are consistent with requirements of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) of 1980, as amended by the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act of 1986.

 

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Hazardous Materials and Waste Management Division (the Division) is responsible for overseeing the Air Force cleanup program, including asbestos-contaminated soil sites, to ensure compliance with State laws and regulations.

 

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 8 oversees cleanup activities to ensure compliance with federal laws and regulations.

 

A Technical Working Group consisting of staff from the Division, EPA, Tri-County Health Department and City of Aurora meets regularly with the Air Force and its contractors to resolve cleanup issues.

 

Other environmental compliance programs regularly inspect the base and include the Division's Hazardous Waste Compliance Unit, the Department of Labor and Employment Petroleum Storage Tank Remediation Program, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Air Pollution Control Division and the EPA Stormwater Program.

Buckley Air Force Base developed a community involvement plan, which was revised in June 2009. A key element of the plan is the formation of the Community Advisory Group (CAG) which provides a quarterly forum for two-way communication and opportunities to learn more about environmental studies, groundwater contamination issues at the base, and other development activities of general interest to the residents of Aurora. The expanded focus of the Community Advisory Group allows for additional discussions about construction, traffic, noise, asbestos and other issues related to activities at Buckley. In addition, the Base produces an annual report to stakeholders describing the status of cleanup activities.

 

 

The Community Advisory Group is co-chaired by the Commander of the 460th Space Wing at Buckley and a citizen representative. Anyone interested in serving as a community member on the Community Advisory Group should contact Mr. John Spann, Public Affairs Office at Buckley Air Force Base (720-847-9431), Mr. John Dalton at EPA (303-312-6633), Ms. Marilyn Null at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (303-692-3304) or Mr. Russell Clayshulte, community co-chair (303-638-4931).

 

Meetings are typically held in January, April, July (at Buckley Air Force Base) and October of each year.

The Air Force awarded a performance-based contract in June 2008 for work on Sites 1, 3, 5, 9, and 10.  A performance-based contract provides the contractor considerable flexibility in how to achieve specific cleanup end states identified by the Air Force, and will allow a single contractor to conduct multiple phases at several sites more efficiently and cost effectively.

 

Site 1 (FT001/ Fire Training Area No. 2)

This former fire training area was used from 1950 through 1972. Six environmental investigations were conducted at Site 1 between 1982 and 2006. This site is contaminated with the cleaning solvent trichloroethylene (TCE) in groundwater. A Record of Decision (ROD) involving Land Use Controls, a Restrictive Notice and Long-Term Monitoring Plan for groundwater is pending. Supplemental work is being conducted to further determine the extent of TCE in the shallow groundwater. Two new groundwater monitoring wells were installed in late 2010 to substantiate the land use controls boundary and complete the restrictive notice. This additional sampling resulted in identification of TCE exceeding standards at both well locations. Therefore, it is anticipated additional supplemental characterization of the TCE groundwater plume will be necessary before the Record of Decision can be finalized.

 

Site 2 (WP002/Oil Pit)

Site 2 was a concrete sump used for waste oil disposal from 1950 through 1982. Contents of the Oil Pit were excavated and disposed of at a permitted off-base landfill in 1987. Subsequent environmental investigations identified no soil or groundwater contamination. The May 2010 Final Record of Decision (ROD) for Site 2 and Site 4 (two Sites combined) was submitted to the Department and executed in August 2010. Based on current conditions at Site 2, the US Air Force, US EPA and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (the Department) have determined no significant risks or threats exist. Therefore, both the Department and US EPA concur with the No Further Action alternative proposed in the final Record of Decision.

 

Site 3 (LF003/Base Landfill)

Site 3 is a formerly used base landfill. The US Air Force submitted the Site 3 Focused Feasibility Study (FFS) in January 2011 and both US EPA and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment approved this document in February 2011. The focused feasibility study identified four remedial alternatives including:  Landfill1: No Action, Landfill 2: Removal and Disposal, Landfill 3: Soil Cover and Landfill 4: Soil Cover with Biota Barrier.

 

Site 4 (FT004/Fire Training Area No. 3)

Site 4 was a circular area used for fire training exercises from 1972 through 1989. Site 4 contaminated soil was excavated and disposed of in a permitted off-base landfill in 2006.  Subsequent environmental investigations identified no soil or groundwater contamination. The May 2010 Final Record of Decision for Site 2 and Site 4 (two Sites combined) was submitted to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (the Department) and executed in August 2010. Based on current conditions at Site 4, the US Air Force, US EPA and the Department have determined no significant risks or threats exist. Therefore, both the Department and US EPA concur with the No Further Action alternative proposed in the final Record of Decision.

  

Site 5 (FT005/Fire Training Area No. 1)

This former fire training area was used from the late 1940s through the early 1950s and consisted of a circular bermed area approximately 100 feet in diameter. After its use as a fire training area, Site 5 was also used as a "firing-in" range for the alignment of aircraft guns. It currently supports an aircraft engine test facility (i.e., power check pad). A Remedial Investigation of Site 5 was conducted in multiple phases from 1988 through 2001. Results of these investigations indicate there are no contaminants of concern in groundwater. Lead was detected above background concentrations in one sample, and three volatile organic compounds (VOCs) (i.e., tetrachloroethene (PCE), trichloroethene (TCE) and vinyl chloride) were present in soil gas at Site 5. Subsequent evaluations indicated the lead in soil did not pose a risk to human health or the environment because there is no building at Site 5 that is routinely occupied so there is no unacceptable risk associated with indoor air issues. Both the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (the Department) and US EPA concur wit the No Further Action alternative at Site 5. The January 2011 Final Proposed Plan and Fact Sheet for Site 5 were approved by US EPA and the Department in January 2011.

 

Site 7 (DP007/Sludge Drying Beds)

Site 7, Sludge Drying Beds associated with the Former Wastewater Treatment Plant Area, is a small separate parcel of Buckley Air Force Base located approximately 700 feet northwest of the main base boundary. The treatment plant operated from 1942 until 1978 and treated residential and light industrial sewage wastes and occasionally limited quantities of petroleum products, organic solvents, trace metals and pesticides. Several environmental studies were conducted form 1982 through 2005. A soil removal action was conducted during late 2009 and early 2010, resulting in successful removal of impacted material. Results of groundwater quality monitoring, downgradient from the sludge drying beds, found no volatile organic compounds (VOCs), semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs) or polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) exceeding applicable screening criteria. As a result of this characterization and removal work, both the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (the Department) and US EPA concurred with the Air Force's proposed No Further Action proposal as the Preferred Remedy for Site 7. Environmental issues still remain associated with the former outfall of Site 7 to Sand Creek, but these issues will be resolved separately during future Base-wide Site Inspection-related work. The Site 7 Proposed Plan and Fact Sheet were finalized in October 2010 and the Site 7 Draft Final Record of Decision was approved by the Department and US EPA in January 2011.

 

Site 9 (ST009/Waste Oil Tanks)

Site 9 consists of former Building 903 (boiler house), the former Building 937 (pump house) and four former underground storage tanks (USTs). The four USTs, each with a capacity of approximately 12,500 gallons, were installed in the 1950s for the purpose of oil storage used  to fuel the boiler house. The initial environmental investigation at Site 9 occurred in 1986, prior to tank excavation and removal. All four USTs were removed in 1986, with an unknown quantity of impacted oil. An additional environmental investigation was performed in late 1986 involving the sampling and analysis from 11 soil borings. Thirteen additional soil borings were drilled and sampled and four groundwater monitoring wells were installed in 2005 during a Site Inspection. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (the Department) requested investigation of trichloroethene (TCE) detected in one of the groundwater monitoring wells. A supplemental Site Inspection was conducted to collect additional total petroleum hydrocarbon (TPH) and polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) soil quality data from the western half of the former UST. The potential source of TCE in groundwater at Site 9 will be addressed under the Base-wide Site Inspection process. The Department and US EPA approved the Site 9 Final Supplemental Site Inspection Report in May 2010 and concurred with the No Further Action proposed remedy for Site 9.

 

Site 10 (SS010/Warehouse Area)

Site 10 includes a Former Warehouse Area, a Former Motor Pool, a Former Coal Pile, a Utility Yard and former Barracks. Based on the results of a Site Inspection conducted in 1997, no further action was required at the Utility Yard and former Barracks. It is believed the Former Warehouse Area was a source of the waste cleaning solvents (primarily perchloroethene (PCE)), present in shallow groundwater and extending northward off base under 6th Avenue onto City of Aurora property. The Former Motor Pool stored and dispensed gasoline. Although not documented at Buckley Air Force Base, it was a common historic Air Force practice to spray coal piles with aviation fuel contaminated with water and/or solvents and lubricants to boost the energy capacity of the coal and reduce associated coal dust. These fuels, solvents and lubricants may have also impacted shallow groundwater at Site 10. In the Fall of 2005, the Air Force conducted an Interim Remedial Action to address the on-base source area. The Interim Remedial Action included: 
 

The off-base groundwater contamination has been reduced in concentrations and overall extent, but has not yet achieved Colorado Basic Groundwater Standards. Groundwater monitoring and treatability studies are ongoing at Site 10 to ultimately bring the off-base groundwater into compliance with standards. At this time, there is no known unacceptable exposure risks associated with the Site 10 PCE groundwater plume, on-base of off-base.

 

  • Reducing and maintaining perchloroethylene (PCE) concentrations in groundwater within the source area to 100 micrograms per liter (ug/l) or less by the end of 2007, and precluding additional perchloroethylene from moving past the base boundary in concentrations above the Colorado Basic Standard for Groundwater of 5 ug/l.

  • Excavating into the Denver Formation Bedrock, which included approximately 53,000 cubic yards of soil, disposing 2,300 cubic yards of hot-spot contaminated soil at Denver Arapahoe Disposal Site and backfilling the rest of the excavated soil, along with materials (mulch, sugar) to augment bioremediation.

  • Pumping and treating groundwater from the excavation and discharging it to the storm sewer.

  • Installing a 1500-foot long air sparge wall at the north Base boundary.  

 

Site 11 (SS011/Building 1011)

 

Building 1011 at Site 11 consists of former maintenance shops and gun synchronization facilities. Elevated levels of lead were found in soil associated with the gun synchronization facilities and a soil removal action was successfully completed in 2009. Cleaning solvents perchloroethene (PCE) and trichloroethene (TCE) exceeding Colorado Basic Groundwater Standards were found in Site 11 groundwater. The shallow PCE groundwater plume extends approximately 605 feet on-base and approximately 350 feet off-base beyond the west base boundary and north of East Tollgate Creek. The February 2011 Final Remedial Investigation Report for Site 11 was approved the the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and US EP A in March 2011. Groundwater monitoring at Site 11 (on-base and off-base) will be ongoing and a feasibility study will be conducted to evaluate various potential remedial alternatives to address the PCE groundwater plume. At this time, there is no known unacceptable exposure risks associated with the Site 11 PCE groundwater plume, on-base or off-base. However, on-base and off-base PCE concentrations in groundwater exceed Colorado Basic Groundwater Standards.

 

  • Base-Wide Site Inspection - a 2007 Preliminary Assessment identified several new areas of concern. Twenty-six areas were evaluated via field investigation in late 2008 and in 2009. In April 2010, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (the Department) and US EPA approved the March 2010 Final Base-wide Site Inspection Report. Based on the results of the site inspection field work, five of the areas were designated as "High Priority Areas of Potential Concern," seven areas were designated as "Medium Priority Areas of Potential Concern" and 14 areas were designated as "Low Priority Areas of Potential Concern." The Department is anticipating a draft final work plan in April 2011, designed to further evaluate these areas of potential concern.

  • In 2006, a Comprehensive Site Evaluation Phase I was conducted to identify munitions sites on the base.

  • Nine sites were identified that are currently being investigated under a Comprehensive Site Evaluation Phase II study, which includes geophysical surveys and environmental sampling.

  • Sites include a chemical warfare training area, an abandoned outdoor range and an ordnance disposal area.

  • The Phase II study will include site prioritization for further action. The public will have opportunities to provide input to this process.

Documents used to make decisions about cleanup at Buckley Air Force Base can be found in the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Hazardous Materials and Waste Management Division Records Center (303-692-3331) located at 4300 Cherry Creek Drive South, Denver, Colorado, and in the Administrative Record and Information Repository located at:

 

Aurora Public Library
Central Library Branch
14949 East Alameda Parkway
Aurora, CO  80012
303-739-6600
www.auroralibrary.org

 

Hours of Operation: Monday - Thursday 9:00 am - 9:00 pm
  Friday and Saturday 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
  Sunday 12:30 pm - 6:00 pm

Buckley Air Force Base

Mr. John Spann
460th Space Wing Public Affairs Office
510 South Aspen Road, Stop 88
Buckley AFB, CO  80011-9572
720-847-9431

 

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Mr. David Rathke, Ph.D
EPA Remedial Project Manager
1595 Wynkoop Street
Denver, CO  80202-1129
303-312-6016

 

Mr. John Dalton
EPA Community Involvement Coordinator
1595 Wynkoop Street
Denver, CO  80202-1129
303-312-6633

 

Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

Installation Restoration Program (IRP) contact:

Mr. Lee Pivonka
State Remedial Project Manager
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
4300 Cherry Creek Drive South
Denver, CO  80246-1530
303-692-3453
lee.pivonka@state.co.us

 

Military Munitions Response Program (MMRP) contact:

Ms. Tracie White
State Remedial Project Manager
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
4300 Cherry Creek Drive South
Denver, CO  80246-1530
303-692-3452
tracie.white@state.co.us

 

Community Involvement contact:

Ms. Jeannine Natterman
State Public Involvement Coordinator
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
4300 Cherry Creek Drive South
Denver, CO  80246-1530
303-692-3303
Jeannine.Natterman@state.co.us