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Mar-16-2012 15:08printcomments

Tyndall Air Force Base - EPA Superfund Site

The Department of Defense has established a target date of 2014 to have all cleanup actions in place at at all Federal Facility Superfund sites.

Tyndall Air Force Base
Photo: Tyndall Air Force Base

(TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.) - Currently in use as an active military facility, Tyndall Air Force Base (AFB) in Florida is a 'Superfund Site' with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Salem-News.com frequently covers similar problems at the now-closed Marine Corps Air Station El Toro in California, and Camp Lejeune, an active duty Marine Corps base in North Carolina.

Bearing in mind the fact that the Marine Corps is only a fraction of the size of the other three services, and that much of the contamination relates to aircraft fuels and related chemicals and solvents, it seems logical to assume that Air Force bases would have seen the same problems that the Marines are seeing, and that the more bases and consequently, people, would be adversely affected.

Site Background

Tyndall Air Force Base (Tyndall) is located approximately one mile southeast of Panama City, Bay County, Florida. Tyndall occupies approximately 29,000 acres on a narrow, 18-mile long northwest-southeast trending peninsula. Major communities surrounding the Facility 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.

Tyndall was activated in 1941 as a flexible gunnery school for the Army Air Corps and was re-designated as an Air Force Base in 1947. Currently, Tyndall is part of the Air Education and Training Command and is used for the training of air defense crews, the testing of air defense systems and the testing of air defense tactics.

Shoal Point Bayou (also known as Fred Bayou) is a north-south oriented tidal creek and is used as a waterway for barges and small ships to deliver petroleum, oil, and lubricant products and building supplies. In 1985, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service conducted sediment sampling throughout St. Andrew Bay, including Shoal Point Bayou. Sediment analyses identified the presence of dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) and DDT metabolites. In 1990, DDT and its metabolites were detected in fish, soil and sediment throughout the Bayou.

In 1997, EPA listed Tyndall on the National Priorities List, based on the risks posed by pesticide contamination in Shoal Point Bayou. Subsequent investigations through 2007 have documented a wider distribution and magnitude of pesticide contamination in the Bayou than previously known, requiring cleanup to protect human health and ecological resources.

Threats and Contaminants

Historical activities at Tyndall have resulted in releases of contaminants to the environment. These activities have included: aircraft and vehicle maintenance; storage and distribution of petroleum and jet fuels; development and testing of rapid runway repair materials; fire fighter training; small arms training; explosive ordnance testing; sanitary and industrial land filling; construction and maintenance of buildings, roads and runways; and domestic and industrial wastewater treatment and disposal. Contaminants identified in soil, sediment, surface water and ground water at Tyndall include pesticides such as DDT and chlordane; solvents such as trichloroethylene, tetrachloroethylene and solvent degradation products including vinyl chloride; petroleum constituents and jet fuels; munitions and munitions constituents; as well as lead, arsenic, chromium, and barium.ene and solvent degradation products including vinyl chloride; petroleum constituents and jet fuels; munitions and munitions constituents; as well as lead, arsenic, chromium, and barium.

Site Cleanup Plan

The Air Force initiated an Installation Restoration Program (IRP) at Tyndall in 1981. Investigation activities at Federal Facility Superfund sites typically occur under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) under a CERCLA Section 120 Interagency Agreement (IAG) negotiated between the Installation, EPA and the State. These IAGs or "Federal Facility Agreements" are site cleanup plans that ensure coordination of all stakeholders' priorities and establish enforceable schedules for Air Force cleanup activities. At this time, the Air Force, EPA, and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) are negotiating the Federal Facility Agreement cleanup plan for Tyndall.

Cleanup Progress

Tyndall Air Force Base has not yet achieved a Record of Decision for any cleanup activities at the Installation. However, investigations of environmental contamination at the Installation are ongoing. A variety of challenges will complicate future cleanup efforts, including:

  • Ground water that is highly susceptible to contamination and is used as a drinking water source on base.
  • Protection of extensive wetlands and bayous.
  • Protection of over 40 species of threatened and endangered plant and animal species.
  • Control of civilian, military, visitor, and trespasser access to areas of contamination.
  • Enforcement Activities

    Absent progress with the Air Force in achieving a Federal Facility Agreement at Tyndall and given the failure of the Air Force to achieve any Records of Decision for cleanup of the contamination at the Installation, EPA Region 4 issued an Administrative Order under Section 7003 of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) in November 2007 to compel the Air Force to clean up the Installation. The Order, which is intended to hold the Air Force to enforceable cleanup milestones, was finalized by EPA in May 2008.

    Study and cleanup of environmental contamination at Tyndall is proceeding under the RCRA 7003 Order. Tyndall, however, is currently out of compliance with the deadlines and scope of work requirements defined in the EPA RCRA 7003 Order. Once the Air Force enters into a CERCLA Federal Facility Agreement with EPA and the State of Florida, the RCRA 7003 Order will be withdrawn and cleanup will proceed under CERCLA. The parties are working to achieve a Federal Facility Agreement for Tyndall during the current fiscal year.

  • Administrative Order, Appendix A Revised February 12, 2010 (PDF) (6 pp, 30.7K, About PDF)

Community Involvement

The Air Force has conducted a range of community involvement activities at the Tyndall Air Force Base site to solicit community input and to ensure that the public remains informed about site activities throughout the site cleanup process. Outreach activities have included public notices and information meetings on cleanup progress and activities.

Future Work

The Department of Defense has established a target date of 2014 to have all cleanup actions in place at at all Federal Facility Superfund sites. Once all cleanup actions are in place at TAFB, environmental monitoring and land use restrictions will continue with EPA and FDEP oversight. These long-term oversight activities ensure the protectiveness of the cleanup for base residents and personnel, visitors, and ecological resources at this facility.

Site Administrative Documents

Site Repository

For more information or to view any site-related documents, please visit the site information repository at the following location. As new documents are generated, they will be placed in the information repository by the Air Force for public information.

Tyndall Base Library
640 Suwannee Road, Bldg. 916
Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida 32403
(850) 283-4287

Bay County Library
898 West 11th Street
Panama City, FL 32401
(850) 522-2100

Administrative Record Index

For documents not available on the website, including those related to the EPA RCRA 7003 Order for Tyndall, please contact the Region 4 Freedom of Information Office. For documents related to Tyndall's Installation Restoration Program, please contact the Base Remedial Project Manager at (850)283-4498.

Learn more: http://www.epa.gov/region4/superfund/sites/fedfacs/tynafbfl.html




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Human Lab Rat March 16, 2012 4:07 pm (Pacific time)

The shame of it all is that if you weren't stationed at Camp Lejeune, the base in Japan or the sites in the middle east there isn't a registry for those who were poisoned by these chemicals. I was hospitalized due to occupational poisoning while using TCE and I almost died while on active duty at Tyndall and the VA is fighting me for my disability. What happened to equal treatment under the law?

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