[BenIndy Contributor Nathalie Christian – Here’s more on the latest EPA action in Solano County, this time at Travis Air Force Base. Travis AFB’s 6,368-acre site is located in Fairfield, California. Cheeky headlines aside, jet fuel spilling into creeks and contaminating groundwater is no joke. These spills represent a tremendous danger most immediately to Union Creek’s delicate ecosystem and could create public health impacts down the road. – N.C.]
EPA Orders U.S. Air Force to Address Oil Discharge at Travis Air Force Base
May 4, 2023
Contact Information: John Senn (firstname.lastname@example.org)
SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today issued an emergency order to the U.S. Air Force to enhance and expedite measures to address an ongoing oil discharge into Union Creek from the Travis Air Force Base (Travis AFB) in Solano County, Calif. EPA has determined that a substantial threat exists to local waterbodies and shorelines because of the ongoing discharge and previous similar incidents on Travis AFB.
“This order is critical for ensuring that the Air Force addresses the oil discharge into Union Creek in a thorough and timely manner, and that no impacts to public health occur,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Martha Guzman. “EPA is committed to fully utilizing our authorities to make sure that the current oil discharge is stopped and similar incidents are prevented.”
The order, issued under the Clean Water Act, compels the Air Force take a series of steps to mitigate the oil discharge, including:
- Utilizing oil spill recovery equipment and techniques to limit the spread of oil in Union Creek;
- Investigating and mitigating the source of the oil;
- Collecting and analyzing water and sediment samples in Union Creek; and
- Implementing actions to prevent oil from entering the storm drain and creek.
The order also requires the Air Force to enter into a unified command structure that brings together the oil spill response expertise of federal, state and local governments to address the discharge. Agencies actively engaged in the response include EPA, the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Office of Spill Prevention and Response, and Solano County.
Oil discharges to Union Creek from Travis AFB were first identified by the Air Force as early as October 2021, but were not reported to EPA or the National Response Center until February 4, 2022. Since that time, the Air Force has made numerous notifications to the National Response Center regarding an oil sheen on Union Creek, including reporting a spill of jet fuel from a pipeline on the base on August 4, 2022. These spill notifications have continued to occur in 2023. EPA analyses of samples collected from the pipeline spill area and from the sheen on Union Creek indicate the contamination at both areas are likely from a common source. On December 21, 2022, the San Francisco Bay Water Quality Control Board sent the Air Force a notice of noncompliance for discharges of jet fuel to Union Creek.
The Air Force has yet to take action to identify and address the source of the oil discharge to Union Creek. The initial oil spill response efforts implemented by the Air Force at Travis AFB were limited, and these efforts were only upgraded after input from EPA and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife Office of Spill Prevention and Response.
Learn more about EPA’s work at Travis Air Force Base.