2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: 14 Mar 2003 15:09:50 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] State to Army: Arsenal cleanup inadequate
State to Army: Arsenal cleanup inadequate
By Rob Shea
Staff writer

BENICIA - State health officials are questioning the quality of the U.S.
Army Corp of Engineer's effort to clean up Benicia's former Arsenal
properties, and want to apply higher standards for detection and removal
of potentially dangerous or hazardous materials

A letter sent by an official at the California Department of Toxic
Substances Control in January also accuses the U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers of prematurely calling the project done and it complains that
Caltrans, in building the new Benicia Bridge, buried an area that
contained a tank and other weapons materials before it was fully cleaned
up. It also demands answers to the possibility that a Benicia Arsenal
worker once kicked a cylinder of leaking mustard gas into the Carquinez

The letter, sent to the Army Corps, appears to include various areas of
the 2,700-acre cleanup area of the former arsenal, even some that have
been considered finished. Its content and tone mark an abrupt turn in a
relationship that has been hailed as a model of cooperation.

The two agencies are scheduled to meet to discuss their differences
later this month, said the Army Corps' senior program manager Jerry
Vincent, to whom the DTSC letter was addressed. The Corps will answer
the state's concerns at a March 19 meeting of the Arsenal Restoration
Advisory Board in Benicia, he said.

Signed by Donn Diebert, who oversees the cleanup of former military
sites for DTSC, the letter asserts that there has been "inadequate
investigation and removal of (ordnance and explosives) performed by (the
Army Corps of Engineers)." It suggests particular concern about land
adjacent to the planned 420-home Tourtelot housing project planned by
Granite Management Corp. However, the land on which the homes are to be
built, is not a target of the dispute.

The state and Army are partners in the cleanup of military ordnance and
explosives (OE), along with the city of Benicia and some private land
owners. Since a Granite contractor discovered non-explosive ordnance
while moving soil for new home construction on the Tourtelot property in
1996, crews hired by the Army have used metal detectors to search for
metal or other "anomalies" in areas from that residential area to city's
historic Camel Barns.

"There are indications that there are anomalies and they haven't fully
investigated what those anomalies are," said Ron Baker, a DTSC
spokesman. "They've had a number of things bounce back (during metal
detection) and they haven't fully investigated what's bouncing back."

Diebert's letter also said Michael Mitchener, the Army Corp's project
manager for the cleanup, created confusion when he said at a March 2002
public meeting of the board charged with overseeing the cleanup that the
Army was "not walkin' away from any site until it meets the regulatory
requirements" because he was aware that DTSC had challenged the cleanup
standards. Since then the Army also stated in a January newsletter that
the "cleanup effort to remove OE is complete," further angering state
officials. The newsletter is sent to about 9,000 Benicia residences.

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