This website provides background information on the U.S. Department of the Navy’s (Navy) Environmental Restoration Program (ERP) sites at Naval Base Point Loma (NBPL) in the peninsula neighborhood. Sites at the Naval Base Point Loma, Old Town neighborhood can be found HERE. The overarching goal of the Navy’s ERP is to protect human health and the environment from past hazardous waste practices and releases at Navy and Marine Corps Installation Restoration Program (IRP), Munitions Response Program (MRP), and Underground Storage Tank (UST) program sites. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Southwest in San Diego, California manages the Navy’s ERP at NBPL.
Congress passed the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) in 1976, the first of the major statutes enacted that addresses environmental issues at Navy installations. It was designed to manage disposal of wastes which were being generated and as such addresses corrective actions for leaking USTs used to contain fuels and other petroleum products. The management of hazardous substances at operating facilities are also regulated under RCRA and evaluated through RCRA facility assessments.
The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), also known as Superfund, was established in 1980 to provide a mechanism for the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) to clean up sites contaminated with hazardous waste and prevent contamination of future sites by assigning liability to responsible parties. The NBPL IRP sites identified for the Navy’s ERP have been or are currently being addressed under CERCLA.
The Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA) amended the CERCLA legislation in 1986. Among other changes, SARA established the Defense Environmental Restoration Program (DERP) which is managed by the Office of the Deputy Under-Secretary of Defense, Installations and Environment. The DERP cleans up hazardous substances, pollutants, contaminants, and military munitions remaining from past activities at military installations and formerly used defense sites. The Navy’s ERP addresses active IRP, MRP, and UST sites identified at NBPL under CERCLA as amended by SARA.
Naval Base Point Loma History
Long before it was established as a military facility, NBPL and the greater Point Loma area were occupied by indigenous peoples because the ocean and bay shorelines offered a variety of rich subsistence resources. The history of military use on Point Loma dates from the late 1700s, when the Spanish completed construction of Fort Guijarros on the peninsula to guard access to San Diego Bay. The name of the fort arose from its construction on the point of land the Spanish first called "Punta de los Guijarros," literally "cobblestone point.” Today, Fort Guijarros is a California landmark.
The modern history of military use at Point Loma dates to February 1852, when President Fillmore set aside about 1,400 acres in the southern portion of Point Loma for military purposes. The area was subsequently assigned to the United States Army and was named Fort Rosecrans. In 1898, the Army built a coastal artillery installation on the site, which remained active until 1945. In 1959, Fort Rosecrans was turned over to the Navy.
On November 27, 1974, the base was re-designated a shore command, serving assigned submarines, Submarine Group Five, Submarine Squadron Three, Submarine Development Group One, the Submarine Training Facility and, later, Submarine Squadron Eleven. On October 1, 1981, the base was designated as a Naval Submarine Base. Starting in April 1995, several commands were decommissioned, or their homeports were changed to meet downsizing requirements of the Navy. Commands throughout San Diego were regionalized to provide equal or better base services while, at the same time, managing a reduced budget.
Currently, NBPL is home to 65 tenant commands that provide a complement of 18,000 military and civilian personnel. The major tenants include Naval Information Warfare Systems Command Headquarters, Naval Information Warfare Center Pacific, Submarine Squadron 11, Commander U.S. 3rd Fleet, four homeported Submersible Ship Nuclear fast attack submarines, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit One and Training and Evaluation Unit One, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Detachment San Diego, Military Sealift Command, Tactical Training Group Pacific, Naval Health Research Center, Surface Combat Systems Training Command, and others.
One of the unique features of NBPL is the management of the Point Loma Ecological Conservation Area (PLECA). Since 1994, approximately 633 acres of land on the Point Loma peninsula have been designated a reserve sanctuary (the PLECA) to be managed by the Navy, the National Park Service, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Department of Veterans Affairs (Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery), and the City of San Diego. More than 177 native and 53 exotic plant species are present in the PLECA, with flora and fauna characteristic of those once found throughout the coastal region of southern California. Species found include the endangered California gnatcatcher, which is a bird that prefers to nest in the resident coastal sage habitat and that can be affected by high decibel noises during nesting season. NBPL ERP fieldwork on or adjacent to the PLECA that requires the use of heavy equipment is only conducted between September and February to avoid the nesting season.
NBPL’s mission is to support the U.S. Pacific Fleet and other operating forces by delivering great shore support, leading with innovation, satisfying customers, spending smart, driving mission accomplishment, and making a difference. NBPL meets this mission along three lines of effort: (1) Serve the Fleet, our tenant commands and organizations, and their families, (2) Build a base for tomorrow’s war fighter with strong ties to our civic community, and (3) Protect our people, our resources, and the environment from all threats.
Environmental Restoration Program Background
NAVFAC manages the Navy’s ERP, which is funded annually through appropriations bills. IRP, MRP, and UST sites are established when past releases of hazardous substances, petroleum, or munitions and munitions constituents are identified that pose a potential threat to human health and the environment, and a response is required. The NBPL ERP currently consists of 13 active IR, MRP, and UST sites.
The Navy is the lead federal agency and responsible party at NBPL. The Navy engages with two California regulatory agencies for oversight of the NBPL ERP - the Department of Toxic Substances Control and the Regional Water Quality Control Board.
The Navy conducts restoration in accordance with CERCLA and the DERP. CERCLA is a linear process that progresses from investigation to remediation with two outcomes: (1) Response Complete, where cleanup goals have been achieved with long-term management to ensure protectiveness, or (2) Site Closure, where no further action is required and the site is fit for unlimited use/unrestricted exposure.
CLICK HERE for information on the CERCLA process and the Navy’s ERP.