The U.S. government began acquiring property in 1939 to establish what became known as Ramey Air Force Base. Located north of Aguadilla, it grew to encompass approximately 4,357 acres. In addition to runways, hangars and related structures, it also included medical facilities, a golf course, water treatment plants and housing. Initially known as Borinquén Field, it was an important location during World War II, providing a base for reconnaissance flights to defend the US against German U-boats. It also served as a refueling station and maintenance area for aircraft flying to Europe and Africa. In 1948 it was renamed Ramey Air Force Base and was operated under the Strategic Air Command. Ramey played a critical role during the Cold War for reconnaissance missions and refueling squadrons. B-52 bombers arrived at Ramey in the 1950s, and bomber crews continued to be on alert at Ramey until 1972. By 1973, the Air Force no longer needed the base, and it was deactivated. The property was transferred to other entities, and now the former base is home to Rafael Hernandez Airport and other governmental facilities and private enterprises.
The Corps identified two areas within the former Ramey Air Force Base as possible debris disposal areas, known as Landfill Area 1 and Suspected Waste Area 2. The identified areas are within property the Puerto Rico Ports Authority owns and is using for the Rafael Hernández Airport. Both areas are south of the runway. Landfill Area 1 comprises approximately 5.4 acres, and Suspected Waste Area 2, east of Landfill 1, is approximately 11 acres. The Ports Authority is leasing both sites to local farmers for grazing cattle and growing crops. The deed transferring the property to the Ports Authority specified that the property use is restricted to being an airport, and the Ports Authority is responsible for maintenance of the property.
The Corps finalized the Remedial Investigation report in 2017, and the data indicates the Air Force did use Landfill Area 1. The Suspected Waste Area 2 shows no indication of being utilized for anything other than agriculture. Based on the results of environmental sampling and the risk assessments, there are no risks to people or the environment associated with Department of Defense activities at the former Ramey Air Force Base. Because there are no risks to people or the environment, no further action is necessary. The Remedial Investigation report was summarized in the Proposed Plan which was released for public comment in March 2018. Following the conclusion of the public comment period, on September 28, 2018, the Corps signed the Decision Document selecting the No Action alternative. The Puerto Rico Environmental Quality Board agreed with the no action determination and the Corps has now closed out this project.
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