Most BRAC '05 Environmental Restoration Remedies in Place
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 11, 2005 The Defense Department has identified and provided remedies for environmental restoration issues associated with most of the installations on the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure list, a senior DoD official told the BRAC commission today.
"From a base-reuse perspective the department will enter implementation of BRAC '05 with a mature restoration program," Philip W. Grone, deputy undersecretary of defense for installations and environment, told BRAC committee members at a hearing here.
Among the installations recommended for closure under this BRAC round "84 percent of those sites, over 1,000, have remedies in place" that address environmental restoration issues, Grone said.
And at installations possessing information on environmental conditions, "restoration projects are already identified and in various stages of completion," Grone said, noting that "required funding and goals have already been established to achieve required environmental actions."
DoD "has mature relationships" with federal and state regulators and local communities involved with the 2005 BRAC process, Grone pointed out.
"In each of the states where DoD has recommended an installation closure, the department has signed agreements to engage and financially support state agencies to assist us in restoration efforts," he said.
Half of the 180 major and minor installations recommended for closure under BRAC 2005 contain environmental restoration sites, Grone reported. Those 90 installations contain more than 1,200 individual restoration sites, he said, with 6 percent involving military munitions clean-up sites.
If implemented, the department's 2005 BRAC recommendations would close just over 10 percent of today's existing military bases, Grone had said June 6 at a community redevelopment association meeting in Denver. The 2005 BRAC recommendations propose closing 33 major stateside bases, as well as 29 major realignments and 775 minor closures and realignments.
There are 843 environmental restoration sites among the 33 bases recommended for closure, Grone reported, noting that 78 percent of those sites "report either response complete or remedy in place."
The certified estimate for the cost to clean up all the installations recommended for closure "was approximately $1 billion," Grone noted. That figure is based on fiscal 2003 data as reported to the BRAC commission, he said.
"This figure includes both the cost for traditional clean up as well as for the military munitions response program," Grone said.
In this BRAC round DoD wants to quickly transfer BRAC-affiliated property "by using the full range" of tools available in the public and private sectors," Grone said.
DoD is applying knowledge gained from previous BRAC rounds to conduct more rigorous processes for transferring property within the federal government, Grone noted. The department will also employ a wider variety of property disposal methods, integrate environmental clean up and redevelopment more closely, and share full information on the condition of property early in the process with all interested parties, he said.
Grone noted that DoD's environmental strategy for BRAC 2005 consists of four main elements:
- Streamlining the process consistent with existing laws and regulations;
- Making the process more market-oriented by using the full range of tools available for property transfer;
- Leveraging existing environmental assessments available for each installation to provide critical environmental information early to all parties for planning purposes; and
- Involving DoD components and all interested parties in early planning.
"The department will use early transfer authority to the maximum extent practicable," Grone pointed out, to return property "to productive use as quickly as possible."
Early transfer of formerly DoD-owned properties allows "reuse to occur in advance of the environmental cleanup being completed," Grone explained. However, such transfers "do not eliminate the department's responsibility to ensure that all necessary response action will be taken," he emphasized.
"And it is a responsibility we take very seriously," Grone concluded.