Very High Frequency Communication Facility Decommissioning
Ahtna Environmental Inc. (Ahtna) was contracted to conduct a release investigation and demolition of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Katalla Very High Frequency (VHF) facility in Katalla, Alaska. The two primary objectives were:
- Decommissioning of all known infrastructure associated with the Katalla VHF Facility.
- Performance of a release investigation of surface and subsurface soils to determine the horizontal and vertical extent of contamination at concentrations above the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation cleanup levels.
The potential sources of contamination were leaking fuel pipelines and storage tanks, transformers, chipping lead paint from buildings, scattered drums with unknown contents and batteries.
The decommissioning of all infrastructure was necessary to access underlying soils to perform a release investigation. The decommissioning of the facility included the abatement of lead and asbestos, demolition, removal, and proper disposal of buildings, underground storage tanks, aboveground storage tanks, pipelines, petroleum-contaminated soil, and other material/debris.
Katalla is an extremely remote location with the closest population base being Cordova, located across the vast Copper River delta 47 miles northwest of the site. All supplies, materials, equipment, and crew are brought to the site by small plane or landing craft. The only beach that is available for landing craft access is extremely exposed to the Gulf of Alaska and is frequently battered by storms. Because there is no cell phone service or internet access available at this remote location, this project required a very competent and self-sufficient crew.
The project mobilized in the early spring of 2017 to accommodate a U.S. Forest Service permit stipulation requiring brush and tree cutting to be complete by May 1. This required the crew to work in cold and wet conditions with snow still on the ground. Because of Ahtna’s vast experience with remote work all of these impediments were taken in stride. The team completed its scoped work on schedule, within budget, and had no safety incidents or accidents.