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Hill AFB proposes $15.6 million for environment

HILL AIR FORCE BASE — Environmental restoration managers at Hill Air Force Base expect to undertake eight projects in the next 18 months aimed at cleaning up environmental damage.

The base is proposing to spend $15.6 million on investigations, monitoring and cleanup at various sites on and off base.

For more than a half century, groundwater plumes contaminated with potential carcinogens have been seeping from the base into seven surrounding communities: Layton, South Weber, Riverdale, Roy, Sunset, Clinton and Clearfield.

Other contaminated areas have been found on the base, as well as at the Utah Test and Training Range.

Since 1987, Hill has been on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's list of Superfund sites, and restoration efforts have been under way since 1990.

Jarrod Case, the base's remedial program manager, said the base has begun receiving funding from the U.S. Air Force for the fiscal 2010 budget — the base's 20th year of cleanup efforts — of nearly $17.3 million.

The bulk of the current budget, as well as for future budgets, will be dedicated to ongoing operations, maintenance and monitoring.

Forty-eight percent of the 2011 budget — about $7.5 million — is expected to be spent on those ongoing activities.

Case said he expects that percentage to increase as systems, such as extraction wells, pumps and other treatment options used to eliminate contaminants, are put in place and require upkeep.

Federal budgets await approval from Congress, but Case said once a final budget is submitted, the base's environmental program tends to receive what it requests from the Air Force.

Because the cleanup is focusing on removing contaminants from groundwater — which moves more slowly than a snail — efforts are likely going to continue through the next 65 years, meaning the Air Force will spend more than $300 million at Hill Air Force Base just during the next 30 years.

Projects slated for fiscal 2011 include indoor air sampling for homes and buildings that sit directly over the contaminated plumes, a remediation study involving the use of trees to suck contaminants from groundwater in Clearfield and other investigations, and project designs and studies.

The base also expects to begin cleanup of areas of Utah West Desert where military munitions have fallen outside the boundaries of the Utah Test and Training Range, a former shooting range at Hill and a former landfill at the training range.

e-mail: jdougherty@desnews.com

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