This is the accessible text file for GAO report number GAO-07-552R 
entitled 'Defense Infrastructure: Environment Cleanup of Former Naval 
Facilities on Vieques' which was released on March 26, 2007. 

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March 26, 2007: 

The Honorable Charles B. Rangel: 
House of Representatives: 

Subject: Defense Infrastructure: Environmental Cleanup of Former Naval 
Facilities on Vieques: 

Dear Mr. Rangel: 

This report responds to your request that we determine the status and 
estimated costs of environmental cleanup on the island of Vieques. For 
decades, the U.S. Navy conducted ship-to-shore bombing exercises and 
other live-fire training activities on the island, which is located off 
the coast of Puerto Rico. The Navy ceased its operations on Vieques in 
2003. The Navy has transferred the land to the Municipality of Vieques 
and the Puerto Rico Conservation Trust for conservation purposes and to 
the Department of the Interior. Although the land has been transferred, 
the Navy remains responsible for environmental cleanup. The cleanup is 
being carried out under the Defense Environmental Restoration Program 
(DERP) that consists of (1) the Installation Restoration Program, which 
addresses cleanup of hazardous substances, and (2) the Military 
Munitions Response Program, which addresses cleanup of munitions. 

We obtained information on the status and estimated costs of 
environmental cleanup on Vieques from the Department of the Navy. We 
performed our work from January through March 2007 in accordance with 
generally accepted government auditing standards. 

Summary: 

The Navy has identified 37 potentially contaminated sites on Vieques 
that fall under the installation restoration program. The Navy 
concluded that no further action was required for 9 of these sites, and 
the remaining 28 sites are in various phases of the cleanup process. 
The Navy has allocated about $18.1 million for the investigation and 
cleanup of these sites through fiscal year 2006 and estimates that an 
additional $15.2 million is needed to complete cleanup. 

The Navy has begun the surface removal of munitions on both the east 
and west sides of Vieques under the munitions response program. In 
fiscal years 2007 and 2008, the Navy plans to continue surface removal 
of munitions on eastern Vieques and to begin subsurface munitions 
clearance on beaches on the eastern and western sides and other 
selected areas on western Vieques that have been surface cleared. The 
Navy has allocated about $35.4 million for the removal and 
investigation of munitions cleanup of Vieques through fiscal year 2006, 
and has programmed an additional $235.3 million for cleanup. The Navy's 
cost estimates for munitions cleanup could change depending on the 
outcome of the site investigations and the final reuse plan developed 
by the Department of the Interior. 

Background: 

On February 11, 2005, in response to a request from the Governor of 
Puerto Rico, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) listed Vieques 
Island on the National Priorities List (NPL) of seriously contaminated 
sites. The areas of Vieques listed on the NPL encompass the western 
side of the island, where the Navy stored and disposed of munitions at 
the former Naval Ammunition and Support Detachment, and on the eastern 
side, where the Navy conducted live-fire training exercises in the 
eastern maneuver area, as shown in figure 1. 

Figure 1: Former Navy Land on Vieques: 

[See PDF for Image] 

Source: Department of the Navy. 

[End of figure] 

In April 2001, the Navy transferred about 5,000 acres of land on the 
western side of the island to the Municipality of Vieques and the 
Puerto Rico Conservation Trust and about 3,100 acres to the Department 
of the Interior. The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 
2002[Footnote 1] required the Navy to close its installations on the 
eastern end of the island, and to transfer that land to the Department 
of the Interior. In April 2003, the Navy transferred about 14,700 acres 
on the eastern side of the island to the Department of the Interior, 
which combined that acreage with the 3,100 acres transferred in 2001 to 
establish the Vieques National Wildlife Refuge and Wilderness Area 
under the management of the Fish and Wildlife Service. The act 
stipulated that the Department of the Interior administer 900 acres on 
the eastern tip of the island, which was the live-impact area of the 
former bombing range, as a wilderness area. The law prohibits public 
access to this area. The act does not prohibit public access to the 
remaining 13,800 acres on the eastern side of the island. The extent of 
public access in this area will be governed by the refuge comprehensive 
conservation plan, to be prepared by the Fish and Wildlife Service, 
which will identify the refuge goals, long-term objectives, and 
strategies for achieving refuge purposes. 

The Navy remains responsible for cleanup of environmental problems on 
its former properties. The Comprehensive Environmental Response, 
Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA), as amended,[Footnote 
2] authorizes cleanup actions at federal facilities where there is a 
release of a hazardous substance into the environment or the threat of 
such a release. The CERCLA process generally includes the following 
phases and activities: preliminary assessment, site inspection, 
remedial investigation and feasibility study, remedial design and 
remedial action, and long-term monitoring. (An explanation of these 
phases is provided in enc. I.) The Superfund Amendments and 
Reauthorization Act of 1986[Footnote 3] added provisions to CERCLA 
specifically governing the cleanup of federal facilities and, among 
other things, required the Secretary of Defense to carry out the DERP. 
The DERP consists of two subprograms: (1) the Installation Restoration 
Program, which addresses cleanup of hazardous substances, and (2) the 
Military Munitions Response Program, which addresses cleanup of 
munitions, including unexploded ordnance and the contaminants and 
metals related to the munitions. 

Installation Restoration Program: 

The Navy has identified 37 potentially contaminated installation 
restoration sites on Vieques. (Enc. II provides information on each 
site.) The status of installation site cleanup on the western and 
eastern sides of Vieques is described below. 

 Western Vieques (17 sites). The Navy concluded that no further action 
was required for 9 sites. According to Navy officials, EPA and the 
technical staff of the Puerto Rico Environmental Quality Board 
concurred with the Navy's recommendation for no further action at these 
sites. However, the board's senior management deferred final approval 
until a public hearing was conducted. Although a public hearing was 
held in January 2004, the board did not provide the community with a 
final decision. As a result, the Navy is currently developing a plan to 
provide for a public review and comment period. 

Remedial investigations are ongoing at the eight other sites. Risk 
assessments for three of those sites are anticipated to be completed by 
the third quarter of fiscal year 2007, and for another site in the 
first quarter of fiscal year 2008. The Navy has developed a removal 
action plan for the four remaining sites that is anticipated to be 
implemented by the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2007. 

 Eastern Vieques (20 sites). A preliminary assessment/site inspection 
has been completed for the 20 eastern sites. A soil background 
investigation is ongoing to establish background levels for naturally 
occurring metals in the soils. The background investigation, 
anticipated to be completed by the end of 2007, will determine which 
sites will be recommended for remedial investigation and which sites 
will be recommended for no further actions. 

The Navy has allocated about $18.1 million for the investigation and 
cleanup of installation restoration sites through fiscal year 2006 and 
estimates that an additional $15.2 million is needed to complete 
cleanup, as shown in table 1. 

Table 1: Navy Cost Estimate for Cleanup of Installation Restoration 
Sites on Vieques: 

Dollars in thousands. 

Fiscal year: 2007; 
Western: $520; 
Eastern: $2,351; 
Total: $2,871. 

Fiscal year: 2008; 
Western: $226; 
Eastern: $1,993; 
Total: $2,219. 

Fiscal year: 2009; 
Western: $211; 
Eastern: $1,691; 
Total: $1,902. 

Fiscal year: 2010; 
Western: $182; 
Eastern: $179; 
Total: $361. 

Fiscal year: 2011; 
Western: $203; 
Eastern: $1,597; 
Total: $1,800. 

Fiscal year: 2012 and beyond; 
Western: $92; 
Eastern: $6,003; 
Total: $6,095. 

Total; 
Western: $1,434; 
Eastern: $13,814; 
Total: $15,248. 

Source: Department of the Navy. 

[End of table] 

The Navy's cost estimates for installation restoration sites are based 
on the type and extent of contamination identified to date and the 
remedies it assumes would be adequate to prevent human exposure. Actual 
costs could differ, depending on the outcome of the site investigations 
and the final selection of remedial actions. 

Military Munitions Response Program: 

The Navy has begun the surface removal of munitions on both the east 
and west sides of Vieques. In fiscal year 2007 and 2008, the Navy plans 
to continue surface removal of munitions on eastern Vieques and to 
begin subsurface munitions clearance on beaches on the eastern and 
western sides and other selected areas on western Vieques that have 
been surface cleared. The status of munitions cleanup on the western 
and eastern sides of Vieques is described below. 

 Western Vieques. A 100-acre surface munitions clearance was competed 
in fiscal year 2003, and surface clearance at the former open burn/open 
detonation site[Footnote 4] will be conducted in fiscal years 2007 and 
2008. 

 Eastern Vieques. A preliminary assessment/site inspection identified 
approximately 9,000 acres potentially affected by munitions and 
explosives of concern in the former eastern maneuver area. 
Approximately 1,100 acres, which includes the former live-impact area, 
is currently undergoing a time-critical removal action to remove 
munitions from the surface. A total of 290 acres (225 acres inland and 
65 acres of beaches) have been surfaced cleared. The Navy expects to 
complete surface removal of the remaining 810 acres covered by the time-
critical removal action by 2010. The cleanup of the remaining 7,900 
acres potentially affected by munitions will depend on the results of 
future site investigations and the final comprehensive conservation 
plan being developed by the Fish and Wildlife Service of the Department 
of the Interior. 

The Navy has allocated about $35.4 million for the investigation of 
munitions cleanup of Vieques through fiscal year 2006, and has 
programmed an additional $235.2 million for cleanup, as shown in table 
2. 

Table 2: Navy Cost Estimate for Munitions Cleanup on Vieques: 

Dollars in thousands. 

Fiscal year: 2007; 
Western: $1,538; 
Eastern: $20,000; 
Total: $21,538. 

Fiscal year: 2008; 
Western: $1,000; 
Eastern: $19,000; 
Total: $20,000. 

Fiscal year: 2009; 
Western: $1,000; 
Eastern: $19,000; 
Total: $20,000. 

Fiscal year: 2010; 
Western: $1,000; 
Eastern: $19,000; 
Total: $20,000. 

Fiscal year: 2011; 
Western: $1,000; 
Eastern: $19,000; 
Total: $20,000. 

Fiscal year: 2012 and beyond; 
Western: $115; 
Eastern: $133,643; 
Total: $133,758. 

Total; 
Western: $5,653; 
Eastern: $229,643; 
Total: $235,296. 

Source: Department of the Navy. 

[End of table] 

The Navy's cost estimates for munitions cleanup are based on the 
remedies it assumes would be adequate to prevent human exposure. Actual 
costs could differ, depending on the outcome of the site investigations 
and the final Comprehensive Conservation Plan being developed by the 
Department of the Interior. 

Agency Comments: 

We received technical comments from DOD, which we incorporated as 
appropriate. 

We are sending copies of this report to the Secretary of Defense and 
other interested parties. We will provide copies of this report to 
others upon request. In addition, the report will be available at no 
charge on the GAO Web site at http://www.gao.gov. 

If you or your staff have any questions on the information discussed in 
this report, please feel free to contact me at (202) 512-4523 or 
leporeb@gao.gov. Contact points for our offices of Congressional 
Relations and Public Affairs may be found on the last page of this 
report. Key contributors to this report were Mike Kennedy, Assistant 
Director; Susan Ditto; and Karen Kemper. 

Sincerely yours, 

Signed by: 

Brian Lepore: 
Acting Director, Defense Capabilities and Management: 

Enclosures - 2: 

Enclosure I: CERCLA Cleanup Phases and Activities: 

The CERCLA process generally includes the following phases and 
activities. 

 Preliminary Assessment (PA). Available information is collected 
regarding contamination, including a search of historical records, to 
confirm whether a potential environmental contamination or military 
munitions hazard could be present and to determine whether further 
action is needed. 

 Site Inspection (SI). This step usually involves a walk around the 
site by an environmental engineer and may involve some limited soil and 
water sampling, including an analysis to determine the extent and 
source(s) of the hazards. 

 Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study (RI/FS). More rigorous 
statistical sampling and analysis is conducted at this phase to 
determine the exact nature and extent of the contamination; determine 
whether cleanup action is needed; and, if so, select alternative 
cleanup approaches. These include removal, limiting public contact, 
determining no further action is warranted, or cleaning of the 
hazardous media (soil, air, or water) on site. 

 Remedial Design/Remedial Action. This phase involves designing and 
constructing the actual cleanup remedies, such as a pump and treat 
facility for groundwater, or removing munitions. 

 Long-term Monitoring. At this phase, parties responsible for the 
cleanup periodically review the remedy in place to ensure its continued 
effectiveness, including checking for unexploded ordnance and educating 
the public. 

Enclosure II: Installation Restoration Sites on Vieques: 

Western Vieques. 

Site: 05; 
Description: Former fuel disposal site; 
Status: Navy proposed no further action: X; 
Status: CERCLA phase-in progress: [Empty]; 
Status: Estimated completion: [Empty]. 

Site: 10; 
Description: Former waste paint and solvents disposal site; 
Status: Navy proposed no further action: X; 
Status: CERCLA phase-in progress: [Empty]; 
Status: Estimated completion: [Empty]. 

Site: 14; 
Description: Former wash rack; 
Status: Navy proposed no further action: X; 
Status: CERCLA phase-in progress: [Empty]; 
Status: Estimated completion: [Empty]. 

Site: 15; 
Description: Former waste transportation vehicle parking area; 
Status: Navy proposed no further action: X; 
Status: CERCLA phase-in progress: [Empty]; 
Status: Estimated completion: [Empty]. 

Site: B; 
Description: Former wastewater treatment plant; 
Status: Navy proposed no further action: X; 
Status: CERCLA phase-in progress: [Empty]; 
Status: Estimated completion: [Empty]. 

Site: C; 
Description: Drainage ditch; 
Status: Navy proposed no further action: X; 
Status: CERCLA phase-in progress: [Empty]; 
Status: Estimated completion: [Empty]. 

Site: F; 
Description: Former septic tank; 
Status: Navy proposed no further action: X; 
Status: CERCLA phase-in progress: [Empty]; 
Status: Estimated completion: [Empty]. 

Site: K; 
Description: Former water well; 
Status: Navy proposed no further action: X; 
Status: CERCLA phase-in progress: [Empty]; 
Status: Estimated completion: [Empty]. 

Site: L; 
Description: Abandoned septic tank; 
Status: Navy proposed no further action: X; 
Status: CERCLA phase-in progress: [Empty]; 
Status: Estimated completion: [Empty]. 

Site: 04; 
Description: Inactive open burn/open detonation area; 
Status: Navy proposed no further action: [Empty]; 
Status: CERCLA phase-in progress: RI; 
Status: Estimated completion: 1st quarter FY 2008. 

Site: E; 
Description: Underground waste oil storage tank; 
Status: Navy proposed no further action: [Empty]; 
Status: CERCLA phase-in progress: RI; 
Status: Estimated completion: 3rd quarter FY 2007. 

Site: H; 
Description: Former power plant; 
Status: Navy proposed no further action: [Empty]; 
Status: CERCLA phase-in progress: RI; 
Status: Estimated completion: 3rd quarter FY 2007. 

Site: I; 
Description: Former asphalt plant; 
Status: Navy proposed no further action: [Empty]; 
Status: CERCLA phase-in progress: RI; 
Status: Estimated completion: 3rd quarter FY 2007. 

Site: 06; 
Description: Mangrove disposal site; 
Status: Navy proposed no further action: [Empty]; 
Status: CERCLA phase-in progress: NTCRA; 
Status: Estimated completion: 4th quarter FY 2007. 

Site: 07; 
Description: Disposal site; 
Status: Navy proposed no further action: [Empty]; 
Status: CERCLA phase-in progress: NTCRA; 
Status: Estimated completion: 4th quarter FY 2007. 

Site: J; 
Description: Former staging area disposal site; 
Status: Navy proposed no further action: [Empty]; 
Status: CERCLA phase-in progress: NTCRA; 
Status: Estimated completion: 4th quarter FY 2007. 

Site: R; 
Description: Former operations and staging area; 
Status: Navy proposed no further action: [Empty]; 
Status: CERCLA phase-in progress: NTRCA; 
Status: Estimated completion: 4th quarter FY 2007. 

Subtotal western: 17; 
Status: Navy proposed no further action subtotal: 9; 
Status: CERCLA phase-in progress subtotal: 8; 
Status: Estimated completion: [Empty]. 

Eastern Vieques. 

Site: 01; 
Description: Camp Garcia landfill; 
Status: Navy proposed no further action: [Empty]; 
Status: CERCLA phase-in progress: PA/SI; 
Status: Estimated completion: 1st quarter FY 2008. 

Site: 02; 
Description: Former fuels off-loading site; 
Status: Navy proposed no further action: [Empty]; 
Status: CERCLA phase-in progress: PA/SI; 
Status: Estimated completion: 1st quarter FY 2008. 

Site: 04; 
Description: Former waste areas of building 303; 
Status: Navy proposed no further action: [Empty]; 
Status: CERCLA phase-in progress: PA/SI; 
Status: Estimated completion: 1st quarter FY 2008. 

Site: 05; 
Description: Former spent battery accumulation area; 
Status: Navy proposed no further action: [Empty]; 
Status: CERCLA phase-in progress: PA/SI; 
Status: Estimated completion: 1st quarter FY 2008. 

Site: 06; 
Description: Former waste oil and paint accumulation area; 
Status: Navy proposed no further action: [Empty]; 
Status: CERCLA phase-in progress: PA/ SI; 
Status: Estimated completion: 1st quarter FY 2008. 

Site: 07; 
Description: Former waste oil accumulation area; 
Status: Navy proposed no further action: [Empty]; 
Status: CERCLA phase-in progress: PA/SI; 
Status: Estimated completion: 1st quarter FY 2008. 

Site: 08; 
Description: Former waste oil accumulation area; 
Status: Navy proposed no further action: [Empty]; 
Status: CERCLA phase-in progress: PA/SI; 
Status: Estimated completion: 1st quarter FY 2008. 

Site: 10; 
Description: Former sewage treatment lagoons; 
Status: Navy proposed no further action: [Empty]; 
Status: CERCLA phase-in progress: PA/SI; 
Status: Estimated completion: 1st quarter FY 2008. 

Site: 12; 
Description: Former solid waste collection unit area; 
Status: Navy proposed no further action: [Empty]; 
Status: CERCLA phase-in progress: PA/SI; 
Status: Estimated completion: 1st quarter FY 2008. 

Site: A; 
Description: Former diesel fuel fill pipe area; 
Status: Navy proposed no further action: [Empty]; 
Status: CERCLA phase-in progress: PA/SI; 
Status: Estimated completion: 1st quarter FY 2008. 

Site: F; 
Description: Rock quarry; 
Status: Navy proposed no further action: [Empty]; 
Status: CERCLA phase-in progress: PA/SI; 
Status: Estimated completion: 1st quarter FY 2008. 

Site: G; 
Description: Former pump station and chlorination building; 
Status: Navy proposed no further action: [Empty]; 
Status: CERCLA phase-in progress: PA/ SI; 
Status: Estimated completion: 1st quarter FY 2008. 

Site: [Empty]; 
Description: 8 ground-scarred areas; 
Status: Navy proposed no further action: [Empty]; 
Status: CERCLA phase-in progress: PA/SI; 
Status: Estimated completion: 1st quarter FY 2008. 

Subtotal eastern: 20; 
Status: Navy proposed no further action subtotal: 0; 
Status: CERCLA phase-in progress subtotal: 20; 
Status: Estimated completion: [Empty]. 

Total: 37; 
Status: Navy proposed no further action total: 9; 
Status: CERCLA phase-in progress total: 28; 
Status: Estimated completion: [Empty]. 

Source: Department of the Navy. 

Note: NTCRA means non-time-critical removal action. 

[End of table] 

(350972): 

FOOTNOTES 

[1] Pub. L. No. 107-107,  1049 (2001). 

[2] Pub. L. No. 96-510 (1980), as amended. 

[3] Pub. L. No. 99-499,  120 and  211 (1986). 

[4] The open burn/open detonation site was used to destroy excess, 
obsolete, or unserviceable munitions. 

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