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News | July 22, 2009

Navy Activity Recognized by Federal Agency for Environmental Stewardship

By Naval Facilities Engineering Command Hawaii Public Affairs Naval Facilities Engineering Command Hawaii

Deputy assistant secretary of the Navy (DASN) for the environment received a letter from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), completing the Federal Facilities Agreement (FFA) agreement for Naval Computer and Telecommunications Area Master Station, Pacific (NCTAMS PAC) July 17.

"The Navy is spending hundreds of millions of dollars every year to restore the environment, protect human health and make up for past practices at thousands of sites around the country," said Donald R. Schregardus, DASN (Environment).

"FFAs like this one ensure orderly coordination between government agencies as they endeavor to protect the public interest and follow the law."

The FFA is required by the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act for sites on the National Priorities List (NPL). It establishes a framework for the administrative handling and scheduling of investigations and clean-ups at contaminated Navy communications sites in Wahiawa and Lualualei, Hawaii.

The agreement was officially signed by the Department of the Navy, the EPA and the state of Hawaii earlier this year. Once signed, it entered a 45-day public comment period initiated by the EPA, with announcements placed into local newspapers April 2. Receiving no comments, the EPA published the FFA in the Federal Register and sent letters to the Navy and the state of Hawaii, finishing the review process and making the document official. 

However, despite the lack of a signed FFA, the Navy has been remediating contaminated sites at NCTAMS PAC for the past several years. 

"This agreement formalizes the interagency coordination that had already been taking place," said Aaron Poentis, Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Hawaii environmental business line director. "We appreciate the collaborative efforts of our regulatory partners to complete the FFA."

The Navy initiated clean-up efforts at NCTAMS PAC in 1991 after soil contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) was discovered at a Navy housing area. PCBs, which were commonly used in electrical equipment before the chemicals were banned in the 1970s, had been traced to legacy transformer sites in the vicinity. The station was placed on the NPL in 1994.

The Navy identified 24 sites at NCTAMS PAC, including 13 sites in Wahiawa and 11 sites in Lualualei. To date, clean-up of six transformer site locations at buildings 68, 236, 261, 262, 343 and a site near building 293 are complete and require no further action. 

"The Navy is committed to being out front on environmental issues here in Hawaii," said Capt. Bret J. Muilenburg, commanding officer, NAVFAC Hawaii. "We will continue to make Hawaii a great place to live and work through active stewardship of our natural, cultural and historic resources." 

NCTAMS PAC is one of the largest telecommunications stations in the world. It comprises more than 2,400 acres of land at more than 130 different sites and provides operational direction and management to all Pacific Naval Telecommunication System users. 

The station manages, operates and maintains Defense Communication System and Naval Telecommunication System assets and offers a full range of automated data processing and information resource services, maintenance and repair and communication/electronic and Defense Message System coordination to the Navy and other DoD activities in the Pacific.