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Ammo Plant - Remediation Effort Provides Boost
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The Riverbank Local Redevelopment Authority (RLRA), a federally-recognized entity responsible for the redevelopment and reuse of the former Riverbank Army Ammunition Plant, is in the process of a massive cleanup project to remove personal property from the old Army Ammunition Plant in an effort to spur economic development.

In the fall of 2005, the Riverbank Army Ammunition Plant, now the Riverbank Industrial Complex (RIC), was officially recommended for closure by the U.S. Department of Defense’s Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC). The Riverbank-located military facility formally deactivated on March 31, 2010, marking the end of its cartridge production mission after almost 70 years.

The RLRA is the federally-recognized entity responsible for preparing and implementing the reuse and redevelopment of the transitioning of the former Army base from Federal to local control. Although the facility is still owned by the U.S. Department of the Army, the RLRA has been operating the site as a business park pending the Army’s final disposal of the property. Due to the RLRA’s strong partnership with the Army, cleanup proceedings are beginning prior to transfer.

The RLRA, in consultation with expert environmental partner Weston Solutions Inc. was awarded a grant, also known as an Environmental Services Cooperative Agreement (ESCA), for over $10 million from the Army to remediate and remove surplus personal property left behind from the military operations. The ESCA was funded in September 2013 and is expected to take six months to complete. Approximately 32 temporary, full-time employees will be working on the project.

The project, now well under way, includes the removal of thousands of pieces of Army equipment – some of which are contaminated with non-liquid polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB). Over the past 15 months, the Army, the RLRA, environmental consultants, and relevant environmental regulatory agencies have met cooperatively to discuss the details of the project and work out an approach to clean up and remove the personal property, which generally follows procedures and standards established in the existing U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations.

There are several benefits of this removal of excess property. First, local unemployed residents were hired and given over 40 hours of environmental training and certifications. Once removal of surplus property is complete, existing RIC tenants will be permitted to expand their operations and ample additional manufacturing opportunities will be created for potential new tenants. Finally, the environmental conditions both on and off site are elevated and the community is protected from future environmental cleanup due to the migration of PCBs.

“With the support of the Army and our environmental consultants, we will be able to complete this first phase of environmental cleanup on the property and turn environmental responsibility into economic growth,” said Debbie Olson, Executive Director of the Riverbank LRA. “By removing the surplus property and removing the environmental contamination, we are restoring the buildings to productive assets that support economic growth and a healthier community.”

The RIC is composed of two non-contiguous sites, totaling 173 acres. The Main Site, located at the southeast portion of the Riverbank city limits, comprises 146 acres and contains numerous structures, including the original aluminum smelting plant and military installation. Large portions of the Main Site remain undeveloped. Another parcel of about 27 acres is located just north of the city limits, along the Stanislaus River. It was formerly used as an evaporation and percolation pond for the treatment of industrial wastewater.

Since the RLRA assumed management of the complex, the number of businesses operating at the site has grown from seven to 34, and the number of employees has more than quadrupled, growing from 60 to close to 300.

The Riverbank Local Redevelopment Authority is located at the Riverbank Industrial Complex, 5300 Claus Road.