The 2,952-acre McClellan Air Force Base (McAFB) site was established in 1936 and operated as an Air Force Logistics Command Base with a
primary mission of management, maintenance, and repair of aircraft, electronics, and communication equipment.
Between 1946 and 1972,
McClellan’s activities were expanded to encompass the Air Force’s nuclear weapons radiological assessment program. The program was responsible
for analyzing the sampled constituents of atomic and nuclear weapon explosion residue and fallout. The operation and maintenance of aircraft have
involved the use, storage, and disposal of hazardous materials including industrial solvents, caustic cleansers, paints, metal plating wastes,
and a variety of fuel oils and lubricants. There is also a substantial amount of radiological contamination of the site.
The Air Force has identified 318 waste areas and potential release locations divided into 10 operable units.
The extent radiological contamination of McClellan only recently come to light cleanup program will be the largest such activity in the State of California,
with ten radiologically contaminated landfills that may eventually have to be excavated, at a cost to the taxpayer of $1.5 billion.
Approximately 22,800 people live within a 3-mile radius of the site. Under BRAC IV, McClellan AFB closed as an active military base in July 2001.
The County of Sacramento and their development partner have leased over one third of the leasable building space to a variety of
businesses and organizations that are now part of McClellan Business Park. Property leasing began over the objections of the former McClellan Restoration Advisory Board
(RAB) who raised concerns about the Air Force’s poor characterization of the radiological contamination and the safety of workers. Most of the McClellan RAB was composed
of long-term former base employees familiar with the facilities environmental management practices. In 2000, the Air Force sacked the former RAB after it sought to hire an
independent radiological expert to review the military’s evaluation of the site. A new RAB has been installed with no former employees and no nearby residents represented.
Active cleanup of solvents in soil and groundwater has been ongoing, and other studies are now nearing completion and will support final
cleanup decisions over the next 7 years. Remaining soil cleanup actions are anticipated to occur while the current and new businesses and development are established and
property is transferred by deed over the next 10 to 15 years.
Initially, Arc Ecology worked with the members of the former RAB to negotiate a reasonable settlement of its differences with the Air Force.
The problem between the RAB and the Air Force stretched into the Bush Administration, which was much less respective to the notion of protecting
the public’s right to participate. Currently, the community is left with out a RAB representing the impacted
stakeholder communities and without any form of environmental and economic development technical support.
In the meantime, the Air Force is in the process of making some of the most significant decisions with regard
to the future of the cleanup program base-wide. Arc Ecology is therefore working to expand our program staff
to enable us to provide the greater McClellan community with environmental science staff support.