Tyndall Air Force Base
Site Summary ProfileEPA ID: FL1570024124
Location: Panama City, Bay County, FL
Lat/Long: 30.087500, -085.586660
Congressional District: 02
NPL Status: Proposed: 06/17/96; Final: 04/01/97
Affected Media: Soil, Sediment, Surface water, Ground water
Cleanup Status: Investigations are ongoing
Human Exposure Under Control: No
Ground water Migration Under Control: No
Sitewide Ready for Anticipated Use: No
Site Reuse/Redevelopment: In use – an active military facility is located on site
Site Manager: Julie Corkran (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Current Site Status
Tyndall Air Force Base (Tyndall) is an active U.S. Air Force (Air Force) installation. In the past, the installation’s operations contaminated soil, sediment, ground water and surface water prompting EPA to place the site on the National Priorities List (NPL) in 1997. Tyndall does not have a Record of Decision for cleanup of environmental contamination. As such, Tyndall has not met the two Superfund measures of cleanup progress of “current human exposures” and “contaminated groundwater migration” as “under control.”
The Air Force has not entered into an Interagency Agreement (IAG) with EPA to guide the cleanup of the Base. Such Agreements are also known as Federal Facility Agreements (FFAs). Negotiated between the federal facility and EPA, these formal Agreements are site cleanup plans that ensure coordination of work priorities and establish enforceable schedules for cleanup activities for the life of the project. These Agreements also ensure that concerned citizens in the community, including Base workers and Base residents, have a voice in the cleanup decisions. Typically, the host State also participates as a full partner in negotiating, implementing, and enforcing the FFA.
The EPA has informed the Air Force that they are not in compliance with an imminent and substantial endangerment Order issued by the EPA in 2007 for cleanup of Tyndall Air Force Base. In lieu of compliance with FFA requirements and the EPA Order, the Air Force is operating a cleanup program at Tyndall Air Force Base without EPA oversight.
The EPA has raised a variety of concerns in a January 22, 2013 letter to the Defense Department and the Air Force (PDF). (10 pp, 500K, About PDF)
Site Location and Background
Tyndall Air Force Base is located one mile southeast of Panama City, Florida. It encompasses about 29,000 acres on a narrow, 18-mile-long, northwest-southeast peninsula. Major communities surrounding the installation include Panama City, Lynn Haven, Springfield, Callaway, and Cedar Grove to the northwest, Panama City Beach to the west, and Mexico Beach to the southeast.
The federal government activated Tyndall in 1941 as a flexible gunnery school for the U.S. Army Air Corps and re-designated it as an Air Force Base in 1947. Tyndall is currently part of the Air Combat Command, testing air defense systems and tactics and training air defense crews.
Threats and Contaminants
Historical activities at Tyndall Air Force Base resulted in releases of contaminants to the environment. These activities include:
- aircraft and vehicle maintenance;
- storage and distribution of petroleum and jet fuels;
- development and testing of rapid runway repair materials;
- fire suppression research and fire fighter training;
- small arms training;
- explosive ordnance testing, training, and disposal;
- landfilling of sanitary, construction, demolition and industrial debris;
- construction and maintenance of buildings, roads and runways; and
- domestic and industrial wastewater treatment and disposal.
Site investigations found contamination in ground water, sediments, soils and surface water that could potentially harm people and environmental resources in the area. Contaminants of potential concern identified include:
- pesticides such as DDT and chlordane;
- solvents such as trichloroethylene (also known as TCE), tetrachloroethylene (also known as PCE or PERC), and related solvent breakdown products including vinyl chloride;
- petroleum products, wastes, and jet fuels mixed with hazardous substances;
- munitions and munitions constituents;
- metals including lead, arsenic, chromium and barium; and
- fire fighting chemicals, also known as perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs), perfluorooctanoic acid(PFOA), and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS).
Investigation and Cleanup Responsibility / Oversight
The Air Force has responsibility for investigating and cleaning up environmental contamination on Tyndall as well as any contamination that has migrated, or has the potential to migrate, beyond the Base boundaries.
Under the EPA Order currently in effect, the EPA has both oversight authority and remedy selection authority. The Air Force, however, has not complied with the EPA Order and is conducting a cleanup program without EPA oversight.
Site Cleanup Plan
Tyndall Air Force Base does not have an EPA-approved plan for cleanup of environmental contamination at the Base.
Given this situation, the EPA cannot determine whether the Air Force is correctly characterizing site contamination at the Base, or whether past and future cleanup activities are protective.
The failure by the Air Force to enter into the IAG/FFA for EPA oversight of the cleanup and comply with the 2007 RCRA Order has presented and continues to present challenges to cleanup progress in the past and will continue to impact cleanup progress.
At the request of the United States Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) in 2009-2010 examined the status of environmental cleanups at Department of Defense Superfund sites that lacked the IAG/FFA required by the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act.
- Interagency Agreements and Improved Project Management Needed to Achieve Cleanup Progress at Key Defense Installations; GAO-10-348, July 2010 (PDF) (73 pp, 2.6MB, About PDF)
The GAO selected Tyndall Air Force Base as one of three installations for evaluation. In its report, the GAO made the following observations:
“Tyndall has delayed cleanup progress by generally demonstrating a pattern of not complying with federal laws and regulations concerning environmental cleanup under CERCLA."
Future cleanup challenges include:
- ground water that can be easily contaminated, is used as a drinking water source on base, and recharges an extensive system of critical wetland and bayou habitat;
- characterization and cleanup of multiple military munitions ranges;
- protection of over 40 threatened and endangered plant and animal species; and
- ensuring adequate control of civilian, military, visitor and trespasser access to areas of contamination.
As noted above, the Air Force has not entered into an IAG/FFA with EPA for Tyndall. Tyndall is one of only two federal facilities that has not entered into a FFA with EPA.
EPA Region 4 issued a Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Administrative Order in 2007 for cleanup of Tyndall. The Order requires the Air Force to establish work schedules, conduct investigation and cleanup activities with EPA oversight, and provide meaningful opportunities for State and public participation in the decision-making process.
Tyndall remains out of compliance with the work requirements defined in that Order. EPA lacks the authority to enforce the Order because of Department of Justice (DOJ) policy as discussed in the 2010 GAO report.
In the future, when the Air Force enters into an FFA with EPA and the State, the EPA may withdraw the Order and the cleanup will proceed under Superfund with EPA and State oversight. Until that time, the Order for Tyndall Air Force Base remains in effect.
- Administrative Order, EPA Docket Number RCRA-04-2007-4011 (PDF) (44 pp, 19.0MB, About PDF)
- Administrative Order, Appendix A Revised February 12, 2010 (PDF) (6 pp, 30.7K, About PDF)
The Air Force has periodically conducted community involvement activities related to the Base cleanup program such as public notices and information meetings. In some cases, the Air Force has not published cleanup plans (Proposed Plans) or conducted the formal public comment periods on its proposed cleanups, as required by law. Technical Review Committees (TRCs) and Restoration Advisory Boards (RABs) are opportunities for the Air Force to facilitate citizen involvement in cleanup decisions; neither a TRC nor a RAB is active at this Base.
The EPA will continue to seek an FFA with the Air Force for oversight of the Tyndall cleanup. Until the Air Force signs an FFA with the EPA, or the Air Force complies with the EPA Order, neither the EPA nor the public can be assured that the Air Force has correctly characterized site contamination, or that Air Force cleanup actions are protective of people’s health and environmental resources.
The Air Force keeps site documents and information in a site information repository at the locations below. As new documents are created, the Air Force may update their information repository. Any questions about the information repository may be directed to the Tyndall Air Force Base Remedial Project Manager at (850) 283-4712.
Tyndall Base Library
640 Suwannee Road, Bldg. 916
Tyndall Air Force Base, FL 32403
Bay County Library
898 West 11th Street
Panama City, FL 32401