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News | March 21, 2017

DFSP San Pedro closes fuel tanks

By Elizabeth Stoeckmann, DLA Energy Public Affairs

Defense Logistics Agency Energy is one-step closer to shutting down 27 World War II underground storage tanks at the U.S. Navy owned Defense Fuel Support Point in San Pedro, California.

After 37 years, the DFSP San Pedro government owned, government operated fuel facility is closing tanks to achieve infrastructure savings and reduce costs for the Department of Defense.

“We are doing the right thing since commercial partners store bulk fuel and there is no need to maintain a government owned facility,” said DLA Installation Support for Energy Engineering Division Chief John Cummings. “Also, the previous DLA director (Navy Vice Adm. Mark Harnitchek) made a commitment to the Navy for a smooth transition and the current director (Air Force Lt. Gen. Andy Busch) agreed.”

The DFSP San Pedro fuel facility was established following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii in 1942 because of its proximity to the Port of Los Angeles and oil refinery centers. The fuel facility operated under the authority of the U.S. Navy until 1980 when operational responsibilities were transferred to DLA.

Managed by Installation Support for Energy, the active fuel depot provided support to the warfighter until it entered temporary closure in 2014. Officials realized it was not good business practice to continue to use scarce resources for the operation and maintenance of the facility when the military missions can be met by pursuing cost-saving initiatives. In 2015, the decision was made to continue the closure of the 27 underground tanks to help mitigate any infrastructure and environmental issues.

As a result, permanent closure permits and activities went into effect for the underground storage tanks. The bulk USTs will be filled in with a concrete material and no longer available for use and will be returned to the Navy.

“We continue to see success in transitioning San Pedro,” said DLA Energy Commander, Air Force Brig. Gen Martin Chapin. “We are on schedule for all closure and turnover activities.”

Initial closing procedures began in February 2016. The design package included closure of 20 concrete 500,000 barrel underground storage tanks built between 1941 and 1942; six steel 500,000 barrel underground storage tanks built in the 1950s; and one steel 250,000 barrel underground storage tank built in the 1950s. The design package includes the closure of valve pits, pump houses and pipelines associated with the underground storage tanks.

“We have a very aggressive schedule as a cost avoidance in keeping the site open any longer than we have to,” Cummings said.

The contract was awarded ahead of schedule within four months of the request for proposal.

Contractors started preparatory work to close tanks and pipelines in November 2016, Cummings explained.
“In January 2017, they started with Tank 51, an above ground tank that sits by itself,” Cummings said.

It takes about 10 days to pump a tank with foam crete (concrete containing a foaming agent in place of traditional aggregates), a lighter and stronger form of concert, he explained. As of March, the design project is about a quarter of the way done and after the tanks are filled, the pipelines can be filled.
DLA Energy Installation Support for Energy Facility Manager Todd Williams is the on-site project manager located at DFSP San Pedro.

“We have had an unusually rainy season here in southern California, and we have faced challenges of landslides and shutdowns due to the rainy season,” Williams said.

The schedule has slipped due to rain and water supply issues and although the project is a three-year term, the contractor is working towards an aggressive six-month completion schedule, he said.

Williams said there are a number of engineering challenges.

Making the regulators happy with the tank closure project is a top concern, he said. This includes the State Water Resource Board and the Certified Unified Program Agencies, which falls under the administration of the Los Angeles Fire Department. These entities regulate the underground storage tanks to preserve, enhance and restore the quality of California's water resources and drinking water for the protection of the environment and public health.

Other issues include water supply due to the aged fire main infrastructure. The foam crete requires a lot of water for the mixture and DLA must be able to supply the water. Shift work also presents its own set of challenges because the terminal operations contract workers are on a 24/7 operational rotation, he said.

Cummings added that another issue is protecting the endangered and extinct species, specifically, the Palos Verde Blue Butterflies and the California Gnatcatchers.

“It’s really important not to affect their natural habitat and breeding season, so we can’t just run across with bulldozers, we have to be very sensitive,” he said. “Everything is coordinated with environmental groups at Seal Beach and our DLA Energy environmental remediation team so contractors know where they can and cannot go.”

DLA conducted an environmental assessment of the potential environmental impacts of the temporary closure in 2015. It determined that the temporary closure of DFSP San Pedro and use of other fuel facilities would not result in a significant impact to the environment.

From Williams’ perspective, the closure helps in meeting the 2025 Environmental Protection Agency’s goal of all double-lined USTs, where currently DFSP San Pedro does not.

“This project reduces the liability for DLA Energy and DoD as a whole,” he said. “We have proven with our industry partners that we have via contractual means capability to support the warfighter without DFSP San Pedro in the mix or environmental liability concerns.”

Strategic engagement is key, Cummings said.

“We’ve been able to establish partnering relationships between Installation Support Energy and Navy Weapons Station Seal Beach, Naval Facility Southwest, Navy Region Southwest and Naval Facilities Engineering Command so we can make this project successful,” he said.

The Installation Support for DLA Energy office continues to manage the $15 million closure effort. Completion will result with environmental compliance and successful transfer to the U.S. Navy, Cummings added.

The mission of DFSP San Pedro has historically been to receive, store and distribute fuel to DoD facilities in support of Navy, Air Force, Army, Marine Corps and Air National Guard missions. The fuel facility consists of storage tanks, pipelines, pump houses, loading racks and miscellaneous infrastructure.