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Homestead Air Force Base

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Jet engine test cell facility on Homestead Air Force Base site.

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Site Summary Profile
EPA ID: FL7570024037
Location: Homestead, Dade County, FL
Lat/Long: 25.489440, -080.396940
Congressional District: 17
NPL Status: Proposed: 07/14/89; Final: 08/30/90
Affected Media: Ground water, Soil, Surface water
Cleanup Status: Construction complete - physical cleanup activities have been completed
Human Exposure Under Control: Yes
Ground water Migration Under Control: Yes
Sitewide Ready for Anticipated Use: No
Site Reuse/Redevelopment: Much of the base has been transitioned to an Air Reserve Base; most of the remaining portion of the base has been transferred to Miami-Dade County for redevelopment.
Site Manager: Craig Benedikt (benedikt.craig@epa.gov)


Current Site Status

The Homestead Air Force Base (Homestead AFB) site is a former U.S. Air Force (Air Force) installation. One-third of the installation remains an active Air Reserve Base. Miami-Dade County and other agencies and organizations have reused remaining portions of the site for office space, storage and training facilities. In the past, the installation’s operations contaminated soil, ground water and surface water. EPA placed the site on the National Priorities List (NPL) in 1990. The Air Force, EPA and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) have investigated site conditions and taken steps to clean up the site in order to protect people and the environment from contamination. The site's contamination does not threaten people living and working near the site. The Air Force has completed all planned environmental investigation and cleanup actions. The Air Force has initiated an investigation of two munitions areas at the Homestead AFB site. By cleaning up and monitoring contamination, enforcing land use controls, and undertaking Five-Year Reviews, the Air Force, EPA and FDEP continue to protect people and the environment from site contamination.

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Site Location and Background

The site is located in southern Miami-Dade County, Florida, approximately 25 miles southwest of Miami. The site is also seven miles northeast of Homestead, two miles west of Biscayne National Park and five miles east of Everglades National Park. The site covers approximately 2,916 acres. Agricultural lands and residential and commercial areas surround the site. Over time, developers are converting nearby agricultural areas into residential and commercial developments.  

The federal government officially activated Homestead Army Air Field, a predecessor of Homestead AFB, in 1942. A severe hurricane caused extensive damage to the airfield in 1945. The U.S. military placed the facility on inactive status later that year and then transferred the property to the Dade County Port Authority. Crop dusters used the runways; a few small industrial and commercial operations used the facility’s buildings. In 1953, the federal government acquired the installation and some surrounding property and built a Strategic Air Command base. In 1955, the federal government formally reactivated Homestead AFB, which then served as the home for a range of military aircraft through the early 1990s.

In 1990, EPA listed the site on the NPL.

In 1992, Hurricane Andrew almost completely destroyed Homestead AFB.

In 1994, as part of the Base Realignment and Closure Act, the federal government transitioned 852 acres of Homestead AFB from an active duty base to an Air Reserve Station under management of the U.S. Air Force Reserve Command.

In 2003, the federal government officially realigned Homestead Air Reserve Station as an Air Reserve Base. The base’s 1,943 acres include the runway and main taxiways. This retained property, referred to as the cantonment area, is the current location of the Homestead Air Reserve Base.

The federal government also transferred small parcels to the Florida Air National Guard, the U.S. Customs Service, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Job Corps Training Center and several other organizations. The federal government transferred the remainder of the former Homestead AFB to Miami-Dade County for redevelopment. The county currently uses a portion of the transferred property for storage; the county’s fire department uses another portion of the property for training purposes.

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Threats and Contaminants

Investigations found contamination in ground water, surface water and soil that could potentially harm people in the area. Contaminants of concern include jet fuel constituents and metals generated from operations at the Homestead AFB site. The Air Force has removed significant amounts of the contaminants; however, some localized contamination remains in soil and ground water.

The site’s remaining contamination is not a threat to residents and businesses (i.e., human exposure is under control).

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Investigation and Cleanup Responsibility / Oversight

The Air Force leads the investigation and cleanup of the site, with oversight provided by EPA and FDEP.

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Site Cleanup Plan

As part of the cleanup strategy for the site, the Air Force, in cooperation with EPA and the State of Florida, identified 31 operable units, or OUs, for potential cleanup. These OUs refer to distinct areas of the site. OU-1, for example, refers to Fire Protection Training Area No. 2.

The Air Force and EPA have issued a series of cleanup plans (Records of Decision, or RODs) to address contamination across all 31 OUs. One of the final cleanup plans issued was for OU-15, the Former Hazardous Waste Storage Building (Building 153). Cleanup activities selected in the cleanup plan included using land use controls for both soil and ground water and conducting a ground water monitoring program.

Summaries of other OUs and selected cleanup approaches are available online in site RODs and Five-Year Reviews.

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Cleanup Progress

The Air Force began cleanup actions at the Homestead AFB site in the early 1990s. The Air Force focused mostly on digging up contaminated soil and underlying limestone rock and replacing it with clean soil. 

The Air Force has completed all planned environmental investigation and cleanup actions. The Air Force continues to monitor ground water and to implement land use controls. The Air Force will continue to monitor ground water until it meets federal and state ground water standards.

The site’s first Five-Year Review, completed in December 2004, evaluated 13 OUs and an Area of Concern. The review found that cleanup actions to date continue to protect people from remaining site contamination.

The Air Force Reserve is responsible for conducting a Five-Year Review for the cantonment area and the Air Force Real Property Agency is responsible for conducting a Five-Year Review for properties the Air Force has transferred or leased.

Summaries of site cleanup activities are also available in Five-Year Reviews.

Innovative Cleanup

As required by the 2006 cleanup plan (ROD) for OU-11 (Outfall Canal or Military Canal), the Air Force provided Miami-Dade County with $800,000 to help fund the construction of a manmade wetland at the lower end of the Outfall Canal. The parties constructed the wetland as a pilot project near the Biscayne Bay outfall. Large amounts of fresh water are toxic to saltwater habitats. The parties expect that the wetland will help fresh water spread over a large land area and allow the water to trickle into Biscayne National Park. The alternative option would be for the parties to inject large amounts of fresh water directly into the park on a regular basis. Information gained from this ongoing pilot test will inform state efforts to restore other canals across Florida into manmade wetlands. 

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Enforcement Activities

For many years, EPA has been working with its federal and state partners to clean up the site. In 1991, EPA, the State of Florida and the Air Force signed a Federal Facilities Agreement (FFA) for the site. The FFA helps ensure that the parties will fully investigate environmental impacts associated with past and present activities at the installation and undertake and complete appropriate cleanup actions.

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Community Involvement

EPA has worked with the community and its state and federal partners to develop a long-term cleanup plan for the site, reflecting the Agency’s commitment to safe, healthy communities and environmental protection. Community engagement and public outreach are core components of EPA program activities.

EPA has conducted a range of community involvement activities at the site to solicit community input and to make sure the public remains informed about activities throughout the cleanup process. Outreach activities have included public notices and information meetings.

After EPA listed the site on the NPL, members of the public expressed concern about potential stormwater impacts from the site on the Boundary Canal, which surrounds the site, and the Outfall Canal, which drains stormwater from the Boundary Canal into Biscayne National Park. The National Park Service and other organizations were concerned that contaminated sediments in the Boundary and Outfall Canals could be flushed into Biscayne National Park. The Homestead AFB site is the only NPL site in the nation that discharges water directly into a national park. As a result, the Air Force, FDEP, the National Park Service and Miami-Dade County’s Department of Environmental Resource Management worked hard to avoid flushing sediment from the site into the Boundary and Outfall Canals.

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Future Work

The Air Force will continue ground water monitoring until site ground water meets federal and state ground water standards.

The Air Force is continuing to monitor land use controls in place for those areas of the site that can support industrial land uses only.

The Air Force is investigating two munitions areas at the site.

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Additional Information

EPA keeps additional site documents and information in a site information repository at the location below. EPA also posts site documents, when available, on EPA’s CERCLIS Site Profile page. For documents not available on the website, please contact the Region 4 Freedom of Information Office.

Site Repository

Installation Restoration Program
Homestead Air Reserve Base
482d SPTG/CEV
360 Coral Sea Boulevard
Homestead ARB, FL  33039-1299

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