February 26, 2020

Cleanup of Guard area to begin in late spring

The grounds of Bangor International Airport suffered from military use during an era of lax environmental regulations and the National Guard has taken steps to cure its domain, the Air National Guard Base.

A private consultant under contract to the federal government will take sample borings and sink monitoring wells to further test “two potentially contaminated sites” identified two years ago.

The sites pose no immediate risk to the public, health officials said Wednesday at a meeting announcing the start of the project.

One of the areas is a ditch that drains from the base into the ditches along Godfrey Boulevard, and eventually into the Kenduskeag Stream, the second area is the light duty ramp in front of the main hangar of the 101st Air Refueling Wing of the Maine Air National Guard.

In November 1988, the National Guard issued the Installation Restoration Program Preliminary Assessment, which looked at the scope of the problem and targeted the two sites.

The report states that the ditch collected effluent from several oil-water separators, and that the perimeter of the ramp may have been contaminated with fuels, oils and solvents.

The cleanup effort is part of what is described as an ambitious nationwide effort undertaken by the National Guard Bureau to clean up problems created by past practices and to comply strictly with local environmental regulations.

“We’ve obviously learned a lesson,” Brig. Gen. Nicholas Eremita, wing commander said. “Past practices did impact the environment. We need to go back to see if we need to take remedial action.”

In the next few months, the consultant will set a timetable for the work, said Carol Ann Beda, a civilian engineer with the Guard Bureau. “In three months we’ll have the work plan in place,” she said. “Then it’ll take a month to line up the contractors. By late spring we’ll be in the field.”

Beda is the lead engineer for the Guard and working in conjunction with ABB Environmental Services of Portland, a subcontractor working for HAZWRAP, an entity operated by Martin Marietta Energy Systems Inc., which is under contract to the Department of Energy, which is doing the work for the National Guard Bureau.

After collecting the samples, having them tested, and analyzing the data, the contractor will be in a position to determine whether further action is needed, and if so what steps should be taken, Maj. Everett Foster, a Guard Bureau public affairs officer, said at the meeting Wednesday.

The Guard intends to look only at the property it uses, Foster said. The remainder of BIA, the former Dow Air Force Base, comes under the auspices of the Army Corps of Engineers, which oversees a program to restore former military installations.

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