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Brief History of the Base

BNAS was an active military base from the 1940s. The base supported the Navy’s antisubmarine warfare operations in the Atlantic Ocean with several squadrons of P-3 maritime patrol aircraft. BNAS was officially designated as a Superfund site in 1987 when USEPA added it to the National Priorities List (NPL). BNAS was selected by the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission for closure in 2005 and was officially deactivated on May 31, 2011. Following the selection for BRAC closure in 2005 the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority (link) was established to implement the Reuse Master Plan for BNAS (link)to manage the transition of the former base properties from military to civilian uses.  The former base properties comprise approximately 3,300 acres and includes satellite sites are in Harpswell, Brunswick and Topsham.  In the last decade the BNAS has undergone rapid redevelopment in the form of commercial, industrial, recreational  and residential uses. As of January 2022, approximately 90% the former base has been transferred from Navy ownership into private or public ownership.

Superfund Designation

In 1987, EPA placed the Brunswick Naval Air Station (BNAS) site on the CERCLA National Priorities List (NPL) when it was discovered that hazardous substances generated by the activities of the U.S. Navy contaminated soil and groundwater across portions of the site.  Due to the contamination at the at the former base the Navy implemented a series of investigations and remedial action to address some of the contamination problems.  In some cases, the decision was to leave the contamination in place, monitor potential impacts over time and to implement land use restrictions .  The restrictions limit activities that can safely take place at the site (i.e., the site cannot support unlimited use and unrestricted exposure). Groundwater and soil restrictions have been implemented on some portions of the former base to address the residual contamination present in the soil, groundwater, surface water and stormwater.

Operable Units

During the more than 35 year-period since the former BNAS  was designated a Superfund site, contaminated sites were identified and divided into several distinct areas called operable units (OUs).  Operable Units are administrative designations at Superfund sites that may address geographic areas, specific problems, or medium (e.g., groundwater, soil) where a specific action is required.  To date thirteen Operable Units (OU) have been designated at the BNAS Superfund site. In 2021  EPA designated the entire former base as OU-13 due to extensive PFAS contamination. 

See the list of Operable Units at the former Brunswick Naval Air station and their remedial status

Contaminated Sites

A total of 21 sites at NAS Brunswick have been or are being investigated under the Navy’s IRP and in accordance with the requirements of CERCLA and the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act, also known as SARA. The locations of these sites are shown of the Figure 1-2 Site Location Map from the Navy’s 2020 Fifth Year Review Report

Superfund site locations at the former Brunswick Naval Air Station (BNAS)

These sites were investigated and based on a review by the Navy, EPA and Maine DEP, no further remedial actions were required at 11 of the 21 designated sites. These sites are listed below:

  • Site 4 (OU5) – Acid/Caustic Pit

  • Site 5 (OU4) – Orion Street Asbestos Disposal Site

  • Site 6 (OU4) – Sandy Road Rubble and Asbestos Disposal Site

  • Site 8 (OU3) – Perimeter Road Disposal Area

  • Site 11 (OU5) – Fire Training Area

  • Site 13 (OU5) – Defense Reutilization and Marketing Office (DRMO) Area

  • Site 14 – Old Dump No. 3

  • Site 15 – Merriconeag Extension Debris Site

  • Site 16 – Swampy Road Debris Site

  • Soil at Site 17 (OU8) – Former Building 95 (groundwater is still being monitored)

  • Site 18 – West Runway Study Area  OSSR (OU11)

  • Fitch Avenue

The remaining IRP sites have remedies in place with Records of Decision that were finalized after the listing of the facility on the NPL in July 1987.  A summary of the active remedial sites at the former NAS Brunswick is provided in Table 6, and the locations of the sites are shown on Figure 11 from the Navy’s 2023 Community Involvement Plan. These sites have remedies in place that include a combination active remediation, such as a groundwater pump and treatment system, long-term monitoring, and land use restrictions.

Description of active superfund sites at the former Brunswick Naval Air Station (BNAS)
Navy's Installation Restoration Program (IRP) sites at the former Brunswick Naval Air Station (BNAS)
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