Solvent & Napalm Contamination At Chino Airport Threaten Regional H2O Supply

(August 5) County taxpayers will pay another $565,170 toward redressing contamination that is spreading from beneath Chino Airport and threatening the regional water supply.
A host of chemicals and substances used and cavalierly handled in the past have resulted in soil contamination below and around the airfield, located at 7000 Merrill Avenue in Chino.
On October 31, 1990, the Regional Water Quality Board issued Clean-up and Abatement Order No. 90-134 to the county of San Bernardino for suspected contamination of ground water beneath Chino Airport. At that time, it was suspected that the groundwater had been contaminated due to past usage of Perchloroethylene/Trichloroethene.
Perchloroethylene/Trichloroethene were solvents that were commonly used in the aeronautic industry from the 1930s until the 1990s.
The county complied with the order by conducting activities at the Chino Airport to identify all potential sources of contamination, characterizing identified source areas, remediating discovered soil contamination; characterizing ground water contamination; monitoring groundwater contamination; and mitigating identified groundwater contamination within the confines of Chino Airport.
On October 17, 2006, the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors approved a $200,000 contract with Tetra Tech, Inc. to conduct a groundwater assessment of the water table at the Chino Airport and investigate possible sources of contamination from the airport property. On September 11, 2007, the board approved a $200,000 amendment to extend the assessment services, including investigation, characterization, testing and quarterly report preparation required to identify and mitigate soil and water contamination together with preparing bid documents for an additional 24 months. On September 22, 2009, the board approved a $185,000 amendment to extend the assessment services an additional 12 months to continue the same efforts.
The county received a new clean-up and abatement order from the water board in June 2008. That order required the county to conduct investigation, containment and mitigation of volatile organic compounds (VOC) down gradient of the Chino Airport.
In 2008, the county installed nine monitoring wells on and adjacent to Chino Airport to assist n the vertical characterization of the suspected contamination plume. In 2010, the county installed 10 additional monitoring wells on and adjacent to the Chino Airport to assist in the horizontal characterization of the VOC impacted groundwater plume.
The game changed  when on the afternoon of July 22, 2010, during trenching for installation of a storm drain pipeline for a new Southern California Edison facility the first three of what turned out to be 51 drums of what is believed to have been napalm were discovered to have been buried at the airport. The county of San Bernardino Department of Airports was notified and it contacted the county fire department’s hazardous materials division and Tetra Tech.  Tetra Tech retained Double Barrel, a commercial hazardous materials emergency responder, to assess the situation.
Additional drums were discovered that day and by sunset on July 22, 2010, eight buried drums had been removed from the excavation. The drums did not have lids and contained soil on top of a tan resinous material. The contents of the drums were field tested using a chemical identification kit and determined to be a non-explosive, flammable, non-corrosive, organic resin-type material.
Soil samples were delivered to Microbac Laboratory in Riverside for analysis. Microlab determined the drums contained high concentrations of benzene together with lesser amounts of  toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene, styrene, 1,2,4-trimethylbenzene, and naphthalene, leading to the conclusion that the tan resinous material was a jellied fuel mixture, most likely napalm. In all, 51 barrels were unearthed.
In 2013, the county increased its contract with Tetra Tech, Inc. to $1,695,880 and extended it through April 30, 2015.
This week, upon the recommendation of Carl Alban, the director of the county’s architecture and engineering department, and James Jenkins, the director of the county’s department of airports, the board of supervisors approved a contract with Yellow Jacket Drilling Services, LLC of Gilbert, Arizona in the amount of $565,170 for the installation of thirty-two groundwater monitoring wells as part of the ongoing groundwater assessment required at Chino Airport.
According to a report to the board of supervisors by Alban and Jenkins dated August 5,
“The installation of the wells will provide for the health of county residents by providing the county with additional resources to monitor and investigate suspected contamination of groundwater beneath Chino Airport. In 2012, the county installed 14 additional monitoring wells on and adjacent to Chino Airport as the county continued to comply with the water board approved work plan and complete the delineation of the offsite VOC plume. Since delineation of the offsite VOC plume is complete, the county is installing additional wells on and adjacent to the airport to complete the characterization of the on-airport portion of the VOC plume and the suspected source area(s).”
Alban and Jenkins’ report continued, “The monitoring wells are being installed to: (1) characterize the existing nature and extent of contamination in groundwater beneath the airport, and (2) provide long-term monitoring locations to track the progress of future plume mitigation measures implemented to comply with the clean-up and abatement order issued by the water board.”
On June 3, 2014 the board of supervisors authorized the architecture and engineering department to advertise for competitive bids. Architecture and & engineering advertised for bids in a local newspaper on June 6, 2014, and on the county website. On June 17, 2014, nine contractors attended a mandatory job walk. On July 3, 2014, three bids were received.
Yellow Jacket bid $565,170 on the project; Cascade Drilling, L.P. of Upland offered to do the work for $787,200. BEKS Acquisition, Inc. doing business as BC2 Environmental of  Orange, said it wanted $848,076 to complete the project.
On July 8, 2014, the architecture & engineering department received a bid protest from Cascade Drilling, L.P. alleging that Yellow Jacket did not have the required equipment to perform the work.
According to Alban and Jenkins, “A response to the protest was received from Yellow Jacket on July 14, 2014, and was reviewed by Tetra Tech, the project consultant, and the basis for protest was determined to be without merit. Therefore, department staff recommends that the board award this contract to Yellow Jacket Drilling Services, LLC., the lowest responsive and responsible bidder.”
The overall budget on the project is $675,000, funded by the Airport Capital Improvement Budget as approved by the board of supervisors as part of the 2014-15 Capital Improvement Program budget. Subsequent reimbursement is anticipated by the county’s risk management division through general liability insurance policies. The project budget of $675,000 is comprised of permit fees of $12,000; project management and inspection costs of $3,000; construction costs of $565,170; and a construction contingency of $94,830.

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