Fort Ord, Monterey Bay, California (via flickr)
Fort Ord was a U.S. Army post on Monterey Bay in California. It was established in 1917 as a maneuver area and field artillery target range and was closed in September 1994.
After some 77 years of military training, the base was found to be highly and widely contaminated with toxics including lead from bullets at the beach rifle training ranges, unexploded ordnance (UXO) spread across more than 10,000 acres of impact ranges and unlined landfills leaking TCE and carbon tetrachloride into ground water under residential areas, some detected in drinking water wells. This contamination finding resulted in Fort Ord’s placement on the National Priorities List, a subset of the most contaminated Superfund sites.
The subsequent cleanup was controversial soon after it started, drawing lawsuits from the Regional Air Quality protection agency and one of the three non-profits formed specifically to force the ARMY and US-EPA to adequately and responsibly clean up the toxics and explosives. The beach area, slated to become a California state park in 2009, still contains extensive lead dust which can harm children’s health with lead poisoning because 96 percent of the area was not cleaned up. (Post-Remediation Health and Ecological Risk Assessments, 2007)
While much of the old military buildings and infrastructure remain abandoned, many structures have been torn down for anticipated development. California State University Monterey Bay, along with some subdivisions, a strip mall, military facilities and a nature preserve occupy the area today.