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Indiana Department of Environmental Management

IDEM > Permitting > Land Permits > Land and Waste Disposal Issues > Site Summaries > Grissom Air Force Base/Air Reserve Base - Grissom AFB, IN Grissom Air Force Base/Air Reserve Base - Grissom AFB, IN

Grissom Air Force Base is a BRAC funded facility; the Air Reserve portion of the Base (AFRES Cantonment) is DERA funded. As of 1995, new projects initiated in AFRES Cantonment will be DERA funded.

A. Background Information:

1) Location:
Grissom ARB is located in western Miami County (a small portion of the base extends into eastern Cass County), approximately 2 miles west of the town of Bunker Hill. The site is currently an U.S. Air Force Reserve (AFRES) military installation. The site is surrounded by actively managed agricultural land.
2) Size:
2,722 acres
3) Population:
4,823
4) History:
Grissom ARB is located in north-central Indiana, in Miami and Cass counties. The base consists of 2,722 acres of Air Force property and an additional 457 acres of easement land. The base is approximately 65 miles north of Indianapolis and 6 miles southwest of Peru, Indiana. The area surrounding Grissom ARB is employed predominantly in agricultural production of corn and soybeans, although small dairies, pig farms and orchards are also present in outlying areas. The areas to the south and west of the base are generally agricultural land uses, with few residences and commercial establishments. Adjacent to the airfield, on its northwestern side, is a beech and maple forest conservation area. On the western side of the base, across County Line Road, is a gravel pile used for county road maintenance.
  • On the northern side of the base are residential areas, an elementary school primarily used by the base, an air museum, a trailer park, and an Indiana Bell office. Agricultural lands are present across from State Highway 218. Public/recreational land uses associated with Pipe Creek also exist on the northern side of the base.
  • The eastern side of the base is more developed than the others and includes residential; commercial establishments such as a restaurant, RV sales, and a gas station; industrial areas are intermixed with agricultural land uses.
  • The location and size of the base's airfield safety zone prompted the Air Force to purchase a 40-acre parcel across U.S. 31. This includes a former residence and trailer park. This land is vacant with an empty, deteriorated farm house.
  • Grissom AFB was established in 1942 as Bunker Hill Naval Air Station (NAS) and remained an active naval training site for both the United States and British Royal Navy Pilot Training activities throughout World War II. The primary land use during this time period was for training pilots to perform carrier-based takeoffs and landings. In support of these activities, various types of routine aircraft maintenance activities were performed. Bunker Hill NAS was deactivated in 1946, with the land and facilities being leased to local business and agricultural interests.
  • In March 1954 the base was transferred from the U.S. Navy to the U.S. Air Force. The base remained inactive until August 1955, when it was reactivated as Bunker Hill AFB and assigned to the Tactical Air Command. The Strategic Air Command (SAC) assumed control of the base in 1957 when it became the home of the 4041st Air Base Group (4041 ABG). From 1957 to 1959, preparations for mission changes at the base included the installation of advanced refueling system capabilities and the placement of fourteen 50,000-gallon underground storage tanks. In 1959 the 4041 ABG was redesignated to 305th Bombardment Wing. Aircraft operations of the 305th Bombardment Wing consisted of maintenance and operation of the B-47 bombers, followed by the B-58s. Additionally, in spring 1959, the base received its first KC-135 Stratotanker, which led to its primary mission change as home to a refueling wing.
  • In 1970, the 305th Bombardment Wing was deactivated and the 305th Air Refueling Wing (305 ARW)was created. From 1977 to 1980, installation underwent a number of upgrades, including the construction of a new base heating plant, housing two oil/gas and three coal-fired boilers. The three coal-fired boilers have been converted to natural gas.
  • In 1984, the IRP was initiated at Grissom AFB. The records search conducted during the Preliminary Assessment (PA) was completed by Engineering-Science, Inc. in 1985.
  • Following the records search, a Site Investigation (SI) was conducted by Engineering-Science, Inc., and was completed in 1990. The initial Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study (RI/FS) was completed by Environmental Science and Engineering, Inc. in 1993. A supplemental RI was submitted in March 1994.
  • Grissom AFB was aligned under the Air Mobility Command (AMC) in 1992 following the deactivation of SAC. As of the realignment 1 October 1994, the Air Force Reserve's 434th Wing (434 WG) is assigned to Grissom ARB and is expected to continue its mission of refueling operations. The Army Corps of Engineers is currently overseeing the construction design for the Cantonment Area, the portion of the base to remain in active use by Air Force Reserve. As other parcels of the base are classified as environmentally sound, they will be leased (and eventually transferred) for non military use.
  • The NU.S. EPA Record of Decision for Property Reuse was placed in the Federal Register in October of 1995.
5) Mission:
Reuse and refueling wing (Air Force Reserve), formerly housed an Air Force bombardment wing.

B. Environmental Issues

Grissom Air Force Base is a non-National Priorities List installation and Installation Restoration Program activities are not currently under a Federal Facility Agreement or Interagency Agreement with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management or U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region V. Site investigations are being implemented for the 10 Installation Restoration Program sites currently identified at Grissom Air Reserve Base. The final Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study Report was completed in June 1993 and the Supplemental Remedial Investigation completed in 1994.

A Draft Decision Document addressing the eleven (11) IRP sites was received and reviewed in March 1994. The Decision Document contained a number of deficiencies; the most significant was a passive groundwater treatment proposed for the Fire Protection Training Areas. Additionally, there have been a total of 44 areas identified as Potential Areas of Concern/Points of Interest at various locations around the base. Each of these areas is being investigated further to determine status.

C. Site Status

While an RI/FS has actually not been completed at the facility, RD is proceeding under the fast track initiative. Revisions of IRP Decision Documents are in progress, with additional work proposed to address data gaps (i.e., the treatment system proposed for the Fire Protection Training Areas). For the IRP sites, IDEM received the Air Force response to agency comments on the Draft Decision Document 1 November 1994; discussions toward the resolution of issues on the IRP DD took place 15 November 1994. Revised plans for additional investigation at the IRP sites are under development and a Statement of Work is expected in 1996. One of the major State concerns was the proposal to utilize the in-place drainage system to remediate groundwater in the Fire Protection Training Areas. The proposal is potentially acceptable if treatment is actually demonstrated. A Feasibility Study will address whether treatment is being accomplished. In January of 1996, IDEM and U.S. EPA attended a BCT meeting to assist with the scoping of the IRP FS. Development of work plans continues.