A new government report estimates that it could cost up to $2 billion to restore Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake to full mission capability after two major earthquakes struck the 1.1 million acre installation last month, Navy Times reported.
NAWS China Lake, located in the Western Mojave Desert near Ridgecrest, Calif., suffered 6.4 and 7.1 magnitude earthquakes in early July that severely shook its nearly 1,200 facilities where researchers test highly advanced Navy weapons, according to the report.
The quakes buckled roads, ignited fractured natural gas lines and broke home furnishings throughout the area, part of extensive damage that rendered China Lake below mission capable status, as On Base reported in July.
“There was damage to a majority of the buildings and infrastructure,” wrote Capt. Mark Edelson, commanding officer of Naval Facilities Engineering Command Southwest, in an email to Navy Times.
Edelson also said that approximately 20% of buildings are unsafe or have use restrictions, adding that many structures were damaged beyond “economical repair and require replacement.”
The new government estimate contains unofficial recommendations for new construction, according to the report, with costs for projects expected to remain unfinished until fiscal 2021 reaching $1.7 billion for structure restorations alone.
“It is important to note this cost is a rough estimate for recovery of the facilities infrastructure only, and does not include specialized equipment, furniture, machine tools, telecommunications assets, consumables, or non-facilities costs,” Edelson wrote.
More than half of China Lake’s buildings were constructed prior to 1980, including World War II era facilities, so many structures lacked “current seismic standards,” Edelson added.
By repair cost comparison, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., which was struck last September by Hurricane Florence, is estimated at $3.6 billion in repairs. Offutt Air Force Base, Neb. which suffered extensive Missouri River flooding this spring is estimated at $420 million in repairs.
Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Arthurgwain Marquez