New Air Force Cleanup Policy to Accelerate Site Closures

The Air Force will shift its focus from installing “remedies in place” to achieving complete site closure at BRAC and non-BRAC sites, under a new policy established last month for the service’s environmental restoration program.

“Getting the remedies in place is an important event and a terrific indicator of progress, but it’s time to shift our focus to actually completing our cleanups,” Terry Yonkers, the assistant secretary of the Air Force for installations, environment and logistics, told Air Force public affairs. “The standard cleanup practices take too long to reach only interim results and often require decades of land use restrictions or monitoring, or both,” he added.

The goal of putting remedies in place can leave hazardous materials in the soil or groundwater, a costly approach requiring sampling and monitoring for decades. Officials now will aim to complete cleanups when it is technically feasible and cost effective to do so.

Officials will rely on performance-based cleanup contracts to provide contractors incentives to finish cleanups of entire installations rather than merely completing interim steps. This strategy, which will primarily use fixed-price contracts, should encourage contractor innovation and creativity.

“It is our intention to contract for whole-base cleanups when technically feasible and cost effective, not merely individual sites on a base,” Yonkers said.

The new policy calls for the “accelerated completion” of 75 percent of all BRAC sites by the end of 2012; and completion of 90 percent of BRAC sites by the end of 2015.

For BRAC sites not yet cleaned up, 75 percent should have a performance-based cleanup contract by the end of September; 95 percent of BRAC sites should have that type of contract by the end of 2014.

Dan Cohen
Dan Cohen

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