Fallbrook Naval Weapons Station
The Fallbrook Naval Weapons Station is located immediately adjacent to the eastern border of MCB Camp Pendleton. The Fallbrook site has been owned and operated by the government since 1942 when it acquired 9,147 acres of the old Santa Margarita Ranch, which was originally a Spanish land grant. In 1944, the Fallbrook Ammunition Quality Evaluation (AQE) Laboratory was established to support the Pacific and European Allied forces in World War II.
Commissioned in February 1942, then Naval Ammunition Depot (NAD) Fallbrook was constructed in the midst of 8851 beautiful rolling acres of California sagebrush. The base was built next door to the community of Fallbrook, a sleepy agricultural town just east of the huge Marine Corps base at Camp Pendleton, in the northwest corner of San Diego County. After World War Two, the Depot was placed in a reduced operational status until the beginning of hostilities in Korea. In 1958, NAD Fallbrook was designated an annex of the Naval Ammunition and Net Depot Seal Beach. On October 1, 1997 the Navy's ordnance handling installations were reorganized, with now Detachment Fallbrook reporting to the present Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach.
Unique among naval weapons storage areas, Detachment Fallbrook is located 20 miles inland. Ammunition is transferred to and from ships by a process known as Vertical Replenishment, or VERTREP. In this operation, ammunition is taken by truck from a magazine on base to a helicopter pad located on the coast inside Camp Pendleton. From there a CH-46 Sea Knight or CH-53 Sea Stallion helicopter picks up the load and transfers it to the receiving ship waiting several miles off the coast. In this manner, large vessels such as aircraft carriers and amphibious assault ships can be loaded without leaving their primary Southern California operating and training areas.
Detachment Fallbrook is also home to the only West Coast Air-Launched Missile Production and Storage Facility. Here air-launched missiles such as the Phoenix, Sidewinder, Maverick, and HARM are inspected, maintained, and re-certified. During wartime the detachment's VERTREP capability could come in especially handy. Aircraft Carriers steaming off the coast can helicopter malfunctioning weapons off ship and have them at the Air Warfare Center's maintenance facilities within one hour. The weapons could then be quickly inspected, fixed, and returned, potentially within the same day.
The Detachment has a complement of 85 military personnel and a civil service force of approximately 100. Infrastructure includes 121 miles of road, 200 magazines, and 119 buildings. The last remnants of the nation's napalm stockpile were stored at Fallbrook, and a state-of-the-art facility was built on base to help eliminate these weapons. The last full napalm canister was destroyed in March, 2001. Overall, the installation stores munitions with a monetary value of over 2 billion dollars. Several endangered or threatened species, including the Stevens kangaroo rat, the California gnatcatcher and the cactus wren, share the base with their Navy neighbors.
Beginning in 1973 the Department of the Navy (DoN) began placing Vietnam era napalm canisters in storage at the Weapons Support Facility, Fallbrook Detachment. The Detachment is located approximately 60 miles north of San Diego, CA. By 1978 all such canisters had been consolidated and placed at the Detachment for storage and maintenance. The stockpile consists of approximately 34,123 individually crated napalm canisters. The canisters are not fused nor do they contain ignition devices. Over time, some of the aluminum canisters have degraded which has resulted in leaks. On-going maintenance of the stockpile includes the identification and repair of leaking canisters, grounds maintenance, and air monitoring.
The Palm Enterprises Treatment Facility is an abandoned hazardous waste treatment facility located at the Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach, Detachment Fallbrook military installation. The Palm Enterprises Treatment Facility was issued a hazardous waste facility permit on 31 March 1988, which authorized Palm Enterprises to demilitarize and recycle the Navy's napalm canisters stored at three (3) locations at the Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach, Detachment Fallbrook. The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) permit authorized the use of two (2) units at the Palm Enterprises Treatment Facility. The permitted units consisted of a 12,000-gallon underground storage tank (Chemical Solution Storage Tank) and a Gasoline Separator Tank. Several pieces of ancillary equipment were also used in the treatment process. During 1989, the Palm Enterprises Treatment Facility was deactivated permanently when Palm Enterprises operations were discontinued due to the failure of the facility equipment to induce adequate throughput of the napalm through its distillation process to separate the benzene and polystyrene from the gasoline.
The Department of the Navy (DoN) undertook a Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) removal action to remove and dispose of the napalm stockpile at the Fallbrook Detachment. The removal action is being taken to remove the potential for release of harmful levels of pollutants to the air which may result as the aluminum napalm canisters continue to degrade over time. Removal and disposal activities began in the Spring of 1998 and took approximately two years to complete. The removal process involved On-site Demilitarization & Separation: napalm canisters will be decrated, punched, drained and shredded to result in three waste streams, wood, napalm, and aluminum; Containerization and Manifesting: napalm will be containerized in 6000 gallon tankers, aluminum in 55 gallon drums, and wood in 40 cubic yard steel boxes. All applicable state and federal manifesting procedures were followed; Transportation: was conducted in accordance with US Dept of Transportation regulations and will occur by truck from the Fallbrook Detachment to a Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton railhead and then by rail to treatment facilities, and finally; Treatment and Disposal: treatment of the napalm and aluminum wastes occured at GNI, a Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Subtitle C permitted facility located in Deer Park, Texas. GNI blended the napalm into alternative fuel for use as a substitute fuel at various cement manufacturing facilities. Treatment of the aluminum occured by solvent cleaning. The clean aluminum was then sent to a commercial smelter for recycling. Disposal of the wood occured at a Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Subtitle D permitted co-generation facility located in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where it was burned to produce electricity and steam.
In its 2005 BRAC Recommendations, DoD recommended to realign the Fallbrook, CA, detachment of Naval Surface Warfare Center Division Crane, IN, by relocating gun and ammunition Research and Development & Acquisition to Picatinny Arsenal, NJ. This recommendation would realign and consolidate those gun and ammunition facilities working in Weapons and Armaments (W&A) Research (R), Development & Acquisition (D&A). This realignment would result in a more robust joint center for gun and ammunition Research, Development & Acquisition at Picatinny Arsenal. This location was already the greatest concentration of military value in gun and ammunition W&A RD&A. This recommendation would include Research, Development & Acquisition activities in the Army and Navy. It would promote jointness, enable technical synergy, and position the Department of Defense to exploit center-of-mass scientific, technical, and acquisition expertise within the weapons and armament Research, Development & Acquisition community that resided at this DoD specialty location. Assuming no economic recovery, this recommendation could result in a maximum potential reduction of 302 jobs (146 direct jobs and 156 indirect jobs) over the 2006-2011 periods in the San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, CA, Metropolitan Statistical Area (less than 0.1 percent).
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