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DLA achieves major U.S. EPA milestone

The Defense Logistics Agency is now one step closer toward removing the former Memphis Defense Depot from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's National Priorities List, or NPL.

In mid-May, the USEPA Region 4 director approved the Preliminary Closeout Report, or PCOR, for the former depot documenting that the site has reached "construction complete" status.

The PCOR summarizes all remedial actions taken at the site and documents the completion of all construction required to address releases to the environment. "This is USEPA's final regulatory milestone prior to removal of the site from the NPL, which will occur when all remedial goals are met and the long-term groundwater monitoring is completed," said Michael Dobbs, DDC Memphis Depot cleanup program manager and chief, Environment, Safety and Occupational Health

The USEPA placed the depot on the NPL, also known as Superfund, in 1992. The DLA, USEPA and Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, or TDEC, entered into a Federal Facilities Agreement in March 1993, which governs the site?s cleanup activities. Then in 1995, all 642 acres of the depot was selected for closure by the Base Realignment and Closure commission. The depot was deactivated September 30, 1997.

After many years of investigation and several early removal actions to make property available for transfer and reuse, DLA implemented the remedial actions approved by the USEPA and TDEC in two Records of Decision, or ROD, and a ROD Amendment.

"Achievement of construction complete status and approval of the PCOR are major milestones for DLA because it is the largest environmental project we have ever undertaken," said Dobbs. "Restoring DLA properties just makes sense in terms of protecting human health, restoring the property for community reuse, and saving taxpayers? money through added economic opportunities after the property is restored."

With the bulk of the soil and groundwater contaminants removed from the 642-acre property throughout the last 15 years, the remaining remedies include a soil vapor extraction system and an air sparging/soil vapor extraction system that will operate until 2014. The small amount of remaining groundwater contaminants will degrade through natural processes over the next several years.

During this time, the U.S. Army will continue to operate the systems and monitor the groundwater. After long-term monitoring determines that the groundwater has achieved the remedial goals stated in the RODs, which are the Safe Drinking Water Act maximum contaminant levels, USEPA will remove the depot from the NPL.

"Our contractors were very thorough with their due diligence in both finding the areas of contamination and removing it through the latest technology and processes," said Dobbs. "In addition, the local citizens who served on the depot?s Restoration Advisory Board were very dedicated in helping us keep open communication with the surrounding community. The former Memphis Depot project serves as a benchmark for all future environmental cleanup projects within DLA."

As a result of DLA's commitment to the fast-track cleanup of the former depot, more than 400 acres has already been transferred and reused. The former military family housing units are now affordable veterans housing. The golf course and recreation areas are now used for local youth recreational programs and the Memphis Police Department built the new Southeast Precinct on a portion of the property.

The local reuse agency, the Depot Redevelopment Corporation, opened the Memphis Depot Business Park in 1997 and currently has 30 subleases accounting for reuse of about 4 million sq. ft. of covered and uncovered facilities that support more than 1,300 jobs.

The final 195 acres to be transferred are in the process of receiving USEPA and Department of Army approval and will be transferred for productive community reuse this summer.

As a result of the Defense Logistics Agency's commitment to the fast track clean up of the former Memphis Depot, more than 400 acres of land has already been transferred and reused. The Memphis Depot Business Park opened in 1997 and employs more than 1,300 people.  

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