n Spring 2005, the U.S. Army and FORA entered into negotiations to execute an Army-funded Environmental Services Cooperative Agreement  (ESCA) providing funding for Munitions and Explosives of Concern (MEC) Remediation and the transfer of 3,340 acres of former Fort Ord prior to regulatory environmental sign-off.  In early 2007, the Army awarded FORA approximately $100M to perform MEC cleanup on the ESCA parcels.   The ESCA grant provides funds to remove MEC on the remaining former Fort Ord Economic Development Conveyance property.

FORA also entered into an Administrative Order on Consent (AOC) with the EPA and California Department of Toxic Substance Control (DTSC), defining conditions under which FORA assumes responsibility for the Army remediation of the ESCA parcels. In order to complete the AOC work, FORA entered into a Remediation Services Agreement (RSA) with LFR Inc. (now ARCADIS) to provide MEC remediation services and regulatory compliance requirements. FORA, like the Army, must meet EPA and the DTSC standards for MEC cleanup, which will take about seven years — less time than anticipated under the former Army program.

FORA received the ESCA Grant and property after U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approval and concurrence by the Governor of California. In August 2008, the Governor concurred in the transfer of the ESCA parcels under a Finding of Suitability for Early Transfer. On May 8, 2009 the ESCA property was transferred to FORA ownership until MEC remediation is complete.

FORA and ARCADIS executed a cost-cap insurance policy to guarantee funding the remediation work to completion through American International Insurance Group (AIG) for $82.1M. AIG provides insurance up to $128M to address additional work for both known and unknown site conditions, if needed. That means there are funds in place to assure that the remediation work is completed to the satisfaction of the Regulators (EPA and DTSC).  AIG is responsible to assure that ARCADIS completes the full scope of their contract. By assuring that adequate upfront funds are available, the ESCA cleanup is not subject to the annual congressional appropriations process (including sequestration).

The ESCA allows FORA, acting as the Army’s contractor, to address safety issues resulting from previous munitions training operations conducted at the former Fort Ord. This provides for the ESCA to successfully address three major cleanup concerns: 1) potential fluctuation of yearly appropriation of federal funding; 2) state and federal regulatory questions about previous actions; and, 3) FORA’s desire to reduce continuing risk to individuals accessing the site. 

From the beginning of the ESCA, FORA worked with community groups dedicated to hiking, biking, running and equestrian activities on the former Fort Ord to address safe access through ESCA properties to the adjacent recreational trails on Bureau of Land Management property. This group quickly became known as the Fort Ord Users Working Group, meeting monthly to assist FORA and the jurisdictions’ emergency service providers in reaching out to the public about signage and safety requirements on ESCA property, reporting illegal dumping on former Fort Ord, and curtailing illegal activities in the former Fort Ord back-country.

The FORA ESCA Remediation Team has been active in nearly 2,300 outreach activities in six years - feature articles, newsletters, events, community organization one-on-one meetings, orientation sessions and workshops designed to update public entities and community members about the ESCA documentation and fieldwork.

ESCA Remediation Program (ESCA RP) progress to date reported as percentages of ESCA acreage: 

  • 35% – Regulatory Site Closure Completed
  • 65% – Project / Regulatory Documentation in Progress
  • 100% – kno wn MEC Field Work Completed
    (The Regulators are reviewing the ESCA field work datat and will determine if additional field work is needed.)

The fact that property has regulatory approvals does not dictate the end use of that property. The level to which the property is cleaned does not require that the jurisdictions establish their land use at a corresponding level. If cleaned to Sensitive Use, the jurisdictions can then utilize the remediated property for a variety of uses, in accordance with their City codes and ordinances. FORA makes recommendations about the MEC remediation work to be performed, but it does not approve that work. Remediation decisions are the responsibility of the Army and the Regulators.

For more information, please visit the ESCA website at: http://www.fora-esca-rp.com