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By MATT DANIELS
Rantoul Press assistant editor
The village of Rantoul is inching closer to acquiring more property on the former Chanute Air Force Base.
Paul Carroll, the environmental coordinator at Chanute and a member of the Air Force Civil Engineering Center (formerly the Air Force Real Property Agency) in the Base Realignment and Closure Program Management Division, informed Chanute Restoration Advisory Board members of that development at Thursday’s RAB meeting.
Carroll said two property transfers are planned for this winter, with one dealing with about 40 acres going to the Rantoul airport.
In conjunction with the property transfers, the village and the Air Force are working to finalize the economic development conveyance application process.
Once the EDC application is approved, the village of Rantoul will own the properties on the former base, which will hopefully enhance economic development.
“We’ve been going back and forth with the village talking about the application and making some recommended changes,” Carroll said. “We actually meet with the village once a week to talk about the EDC application. We’re at a point now where we’re ready to finalize the language of the EDC approval that will get staffed up to the Department of Defense for review.”
Carroll said that process will go on through April and May 2013. Once the EDC is signed, more property transfers can occur from the Air Force to the village.
“About half of the remaining property is going to be ready to transfer by the time that EDC is signed,” Carroll said. “The remaining half of the acreage, which is mostly on the southeastern part of the base that has all the groundwater cleanup, that will require some more monitoring to ensure that we’re going to meet operating requirements that the (Environmental Protection Agency) sets for us before we transfer that property. It will probably be around 2014 before the final transfer occurs here.”
RAB member Doug Rokke asked about the status of the proposed demolition of White Hall. Carroll said that building falls in line with the EDC application.
“We still have the agreement with the village to move forward with that,” Carroll said. “It needs to wait until that agreement is signed and done.”
Salt Fork Creek update: The Air Force is recommending no further action be taken on Salt Fork Creek based on investigative results.
Rokke, however, insisted at the meeting no final decision on Salt Fork Creek be made. Rokke has concerns about other non-cancer health risks that may come about with the materials used to help in the cleanup. He would like to see the Air Force continue to monitor its remediation activities before making a final decision on Salt Fork Creek.
“I highly recommend that we withhold final decision and action until we get a complete assessment on that,” Rokke said. “I just want to make sure we don’t have any problems, so wait until you’ve got everything done and cleaned up so that there’s no possibility of anything coming from those sites into the creek at a further later date.”
Howard Sparrow, project manager for Shaw Environmental, the Greenville, S.C., company that is in charge of cleanup at the base, said the human health risk is low and ecological use is allowable at Salt Fork Creek.
“The Salt Fork Creek is acceptable for both ecological and human health risk,” he said. “We’re monitoring the groundwater. We’re trying to pick (any contaminants) before it even gets in the creek.”
Dr. Nick Schneider, a consultant to the board from RAPPS Engineering and Applied Science, said instances of increased quantities of barium were found at one point in the samples taken along the creek, but said that is no cause for alarm.
“’People might think, ‘Oh, the base has done something to this,’” he said. “Well, perhaps, but the barium is equal all through. There’s really no change here. I would call it equilibrium with the stream water at the time these things were taken.”
Members of the public have until Monday, Dec. 17, to send comments to the Air Force about Salt Fork Creek. They may do so by emailing Carroll at email@example.com, faxing him at 806-885-5022 or by mailing him at the following address:
— Mr. Paul Carroll, P.G. AFCEC/CIBE
2261 Hughes Avenue, Suite 121
Lackland Air Force Base, Texas 78236-9821
Progress on other cleanup items: Sparrow said Shaw on Sept. 27 accomplished having remedies in place for cleanup of 47 sites on the base.
“Our crews were working almost nonstop to get that completed,” Sparrow said. “Remedy in place means we have gone to each of the 47 sites, addressed the concerns that were at that site and we have implemented the remedial actions necessary to clean that site up.”
Records of decisions still need to be made on landfills 1, 2, 3 and 4 on the former base, with public meetings set for May 2013 to discuss the landfills.
Sparrow said much work was done on the fire training area and fuel spill site in July, August and September.
“There’s still groundwater beneath the fire training area that does contain some of the fuel components that were used when they did the fire training exercises,” Sparrow said. “We are now treating that groundwater. That site will probably take two or three more years, at least, to meet groundwater treatment standards.”
He expects the same time length to monitor the groundwater at the fuel spill site to make sure the treatment was effective and stays effective.
Sparrow also said Shaw removed one above-ground fuel storage tank at White Hall that might have been sitting there for 10-15 years.
“There was no leak from that tank,” Sparrow said. “The soil was clean. We recovered the fuel and removed the tank at that site.”
Sparrow said 13 sites are closed with no restrictions, and Shaw is looking at closing eight more sites in 2013.
“We want to get it cleaned up, meet the remedial goals, close those sites and move on,” Sparrow said. “That’s a good part about these performance-based contracts.
That’s where the performance part of this really comes in. It’s incumbent upon us to meet those performance goals, and we want to expedite that performance.”
Future of RAB discussed: RAB member Jack Anderson asked about possibly dissolving the RAB since much of the cleanup efforts are near completion.
One sign that the RAB — which has met four times a year in the past — might be winding down is the next meeting isn’t set until May 16, more than six months from the last RAB meeting.
RAB member Caryl Fothergill asked if, instead of dissolving the RAB entirely, to meet just once a year.
“Since the agenda of items are slowing down,” Fothergill said, “we don’t need a briefing every three months.”
Carroll said the item will be more thoroughly discussed at next May’s meeting.