11 Facilities in State Proposed for Superfund List

Times Staff Writer

Eleven federal facilities in California--10 military bases and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory--are among 52 government installations that should be included on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund list of the nation’s most potentially hazardous waste sites, the agency said Thursday.

Because they are at government facilities operated by federal agencies, the cleanups mandated by Superfund legislation would have to be paid for by the agencies themselves, the EPA said.

The EPA made no estimate of costs, but Jon Cannon, the assistant EPA administrator in charge of the Superfund, said in Washington that “you will see (budget) demands ballooning in future years as remedies are selected and the cleanup process--the expensive part of the process--kicks in.”

The 11 facilities in California include the Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base in northern San Diego County; the Marine Corps Logistics Base near Barstow; Edwards Air Force Base in southern Kern County; the Ft. Ord Army Base near Monterey; George Air Force Base near Victorville and the Lawrence laboratory in Livermore.


The others are March Air Force Base in Riverside; Mather Air Force Base near Sacramento; the Treasure Island Naval Station’s Hunters Point Annex in San Francisco; the Tracy Defense Depot in Tracy and Travis Air Force Base in Solano County.

Facilities in other states include the Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York; the Feed Materials Production Center in Ohio; the Oak Ridge Reservation in Tennessee; the Picatinny Army Arsenal in New Jersey and the Savannah River nuclear military plant in South Carolina.

With these new proposed sites, the Superfund National Priorities List now includes 1,224 hazardous waste sites, 889 of which are final and 335 of which are proposed. In California, 52 sites are on the final list and 46 now are proposed.

Once a site is proposed, its inclusion on the list is open for public comment, usually for about 60 days. The proposal is then reviewed and, if accepted, it is placed on the final list.


After a site makes the final list, there is a period of study and negotiation, which can last up to two years, to determine the best course of action. Federal law requires that the actual cleanup work begin no more than 15 months after the cleanup plan is selected.

Most of the sites on the national list are privately owned and operated. Thus far, federal sites account for 115 of the national total, with 41 final and 74 proposed. The EPA said the list will eventually include more than 200 federal facilities.

In making its recommendations Thursday, the EPA described the environmental problems suspected at the various facilities.

At a disposal site used by the Lawrence laboratory in Livermore, traces of tritium, a radioactive, gaseous isotope of hydrogen, were found in shallow sampling wells, according to the EPA. The concentration of the gas was not reported, but the EPA said the tritium apparently was not contaminating drinking water supplies.


In addition, solvent wastes that included trichloroethylene, which can cause liver damage and, in extreme cases, death due to cardiac failure, and tetrachloroethylene, which can cause intestinal disorders, stupefaction and, in extreme cases, fatal intoxication, were found in some soil samples taken at the Livermore disposal site.

At the Barstow Marine Corps Logistics Base, solvent wastes that included trichloroethylene apparently were generated in “substantial quantities” at a repair and maintenance facility, according to the EPA.

At Camp Pendleton, wastes including DDT, heptachlor, lindane, zinc, lead, benzene, xylene, trichloroethylene, methyl ethyl ketone and 2,4-T have been found in soil in and around dump sites. The agency said that wells used for drinking water are located as close as a quarter mile from some of the disposal sites, but so far no contaminants have been found in the camp’s water supply.

At Edwards Air Force Base, wastes containing pesticides, heavy metals, solvents, acids and trichloroethylene have been found, some in soil and some in ground water.


In the Mojave Desert near George Air Force Base, private wells have been found to be contaminated with chloroform and with methylene chloride, a volatile liquid that can induce narcosis and damage the eyes. The EPA said a disposal area on the base where solvents were dumped appears to have been a major source of the contamination.