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Naval Air Station Whiting Field

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Whiting Field
(source: US Navy)

Additional Resources
Site Summary Profile
EPA ID: FL2170023244
Location: Milton, Santa Rosa County, FL
Lat/Long: 30.709720, -087.020410
Congressional District: 01
NPL Status: Proposed: 01/18/94; Final 05/31/94
Affected Media: Soil
Cleanup Status: Physical cleanup activities are underway
Human Exposure Under Control: Yes
Ground water Migration Under Control: Yes
Sitewide Ready for Anticipated Use: No
Site Reuse/Redevelopment: Active Military Facility
Site Manager: Craig Benedikt (benedikt.craig@epa.gov)

Current Site Status

Naval Air Station (NAS) Whiting Field is an active U.S. Navy (Navy) installation. The installation provides aircraft and helicopter training for Navy personnel. In the past, operations at NAS Whiting Field generated solid and industrial wastes that contaminated soil and ground water. EPA placed NAS Whiting Field on the National Priorities List (NPL) of contaminated sites in 1994. The Navy, 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 installation's contamination does not threaten people living and working near the site. Several short-term cleanups have significantly lowered contaminants levels. By cleaning up and monitoring soils, enforcing land use controls, and undertaking Five-Year Reviews, the Navy, EPA and FDEP continue to protect people and the environment from site contamination. The parties are also continuing to investigate the installation and issue cleanup plans.

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Site Location and Background

The 3,842-acre installation is located in Santa Rosa County, approximately six miles north of Milton, Florida, and 25 miles northeast of Pensacola, Florida. The installation consists of two airfields (the North and South Airfields) separated by an industrial area. Lands surrounding NAS Whiting Field include agricultural land to the northwest, residential and forested areas to the south, and forested areas to the east, west and northeast.

NAS Whiting Field began operating in 1943. Past waste handling practices at the installation resulted in contamination of soil and ground water with petroleum products and waste solvents. Through the early 1980s, operators disposed of construction and demolition debris, garbage, waste solvents and oils, tank bottom sludges, and fuels and machine fluids at different locations at the installation.

In 1994, EPA listed NAS Whiting Field on the NPL.

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Threats and Contaminants

Investigations found contamination in ground water and soil that could potentially harm people in the area. Contaminants of concern include trichloroethylene in ground water and petroleum constituents, waste solvents and pesticides in soil and ground water.

The Navy installed granulated activated carbon filters on the NAS Whiting Field drinking water supply wells to prevent any exposure to contaminants in ground water above federal or state drinking water standards

Contamination at the installation is not a threat to local residents and businesses (i.e., human exposure is under control).

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Investigation and Cleanup Responsibility / Oversight

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

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Site Cleanup Plan

Investigations and cleanup activities have focused on 28 areas, which EPA refers to as operable units, or OUs. These OUs refer to distinct areas of NAS Whiting Field.

OU-1, for example, refers to a 5-acre parcel located along the northwestern installation boundary where operators disposed of wastes associated with the operation and maintenance of aircraft from 1943 until 1965.

The Navy has completed remedial investigations for 26 of the site’s 28 OUs and feasibility studies for 25 OUs.

The Navy and EPA have issued a series of cleanup plans (Records of Decision, or RODs) for 24 OUs. No Action and No Further Action RODs have been issued for eight OUs: OU-3, Site 3; OU-5, Site 5; OU-6, Site 6; OU-8, Site 9; OU-11, Site 12; OU-13, Site 14; OU-23, Site 38; and OU-26, Site 29.

In 2012, the Navy and EPA issued their most recent cleanup plan. The ROD was for OU-27 Site 41, the former pesticide storage area at NAS Whiting Field. Cleanup activities selected in the plan included:

Summaries of cleanup approaches selected for other site OUs are available online.

The Navy and EPA have yet to issue cleanup plans (RODs) for three OUs. The Navy is currently conducting a remedial investigation for OU-25 and a feasibility study for OU-24. In addition, the Navy, EPA and FDEP are currently investigating three former military munitions areas which were recently identified at the installation.

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Cleanup Progress

The Navy began cleanup activities at NAS Whiting Field in 1999. The Navy has focused a majority of its cleanup actions to date on soil contamination. The Navy completed short-term cleanup actions at five OUs during 1999 and at six OUs in 2001. For areas of the site that cannot support residential uses because of remaining soil contamination, the Navy has put in place land use controls which specify allowable land uses.

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

OU-1 and OU-2

EPA, FDEP and the Navy signed a Land Use Control Assurance Plan Memorandum of Agreement in 1999 to make sure land use controls required for OU-1 (Northwest Disposal Area) and OU-2 (Northwest Open Disposal Area) would be effective. In 2008, the Navy and EPA removed the land use control requirements as part of a ROD Amendment issued for OU-2.

The site’s first Five-Year Review, completed in 2006 for OU-1 and OU-2, found that the cleanup actions for both areas continue to protect people from remaining site contamination.

OU-4: Solar-Powered Cleanup Pilot Test

In 2005, the Navy, in collaboration with EPA and FDEP, tested a solar-powered cleanup system at OU-4. This system involved the use of a soil vapor extraction unit powered by solar panels to cleanup soil. Due to the high concentration of contaminants in the soil, the agencies determined that the solar-powered cleanup approach would take too long. Nevertheless, the pilot test showed that parties could potentially use the approach at other sites.

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Enforcement Activities

For many years, EPA has been working with its federal and state partners to clean up the installation. In 2009, a Federal Facilities Agreement (FFA) for NAS Whiting Field signed by the Navy, EPA and FDEP became effective. 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. The FFA also establishes schedules and enforceable milestones for cleanup activities.

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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 NAS Whiting Field, 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 NAS Whiting Field to solicit community input and to make sure the public remains informed about activities throughout the cleanup process. Outreach activities have included public notices, newsletters and public meetings.

In addition, the Navy, in cooperation with EPA and FDEP, formed a Restoration Advisory Board (RAB) for NAS Whiting Field. The RAB is a forum for the exchange of information and partnership among citizens, the installation, EPA and FDEP. The RAB held annual meetings in 2009 and 2010. Since then, the citizen members of the RAB determined that public notices and newsletters were sufficient methods of conveying information and the RAB meetings were discontinued.

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Future Work

The Navy is completing a remedial investigation for OU-25 (Basewide Ground Water).
 
The Navy is preparing a feasibility study for OU-24.

The Navy is also completing an investigation of a former gunnery range, a former skeet shooting range and a former flare disposal area.

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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

West Florida Regional Library
805 Alabama Street
Milton, Florida  32570

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