Arizona Army National Guard Camp Navajo | Site History

1942: Camp Navajo was established and was originally known as the Navajo Army Depot. The facility operated as a reserve supply depot for the receipt, shipping, storage, surveillance, minor maintenance and demilitarization of ammunition/explosives and assigned commodities. The OB/OD area was formerly used for demilitarization and land disposal of obsolete and unserviceable conventional ammunition, explosives, and limited chemical warfare agents.

1979: Improper disposal occurred in the OB/OD area at sites including the trinitrotoluene (TNT) washout lagoons and the former White Phosphorus Detonation and burn area (a.k.a. Chemical Canyon). Four landfills containing ordnance and visible unexploded ordnance (UXO) are located in the OB/OD area. Environmental studies of the facility began.

1982: Operational control of the base was transferred under an intra-State support agreement from the Secretary of the Army to the AZ Air National Guard (ARNG). After the transfer, the missions for the National Guard were training, continuing depot activities and facilities maintenance.

1993: Operational control was transferred under the Base Realignment and Closure Act of 1988 (BRAC 1) to the AZ ARNG, and the name was changed to Camp Navajo. The installation continues as a major training site, and also performs a depot-level storage service for the Department of Defense (DoD), other government, and civilian entities. As a condition of transfer, the Army maintained responsibility for cleanup activities at the facility.

1994: The Army’s demilitarization activities in the OB/OD Area were regulated under HTRCRA interim status. Demilitarization activities ceased in September 1994 in connection with the closure of Camp Navajo under BRAC 1. A closure plan was submitted to ADEQ, which was determined to be insufficient.

Contamination at the facility did not qualify the site for inclusion on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) NPL. However, the facility is subject to all state and federal laws and is being cleaned up to federal standards as part of the DoD’s IRP.

1995 - 2002: Between 1995 and 2001, the Army environmental center conducted a closure plan investigation to collect sufficient data to support an appropriate closure plan. In 1998, the Army environmental center submitted an investigation report, but ADEQ asked for additional sampling and site cleanup. Between 1998 and 2001, very little progress was made on further investigation of the OB/OD area because of Army funding. In February 2001, a preliminary geophysical report was submitted to ADEQ that revealed potential UXO in the OB/OD area was worse than that previously suspected.

2002: In February, a SAG was formed to assist the NGB with stakeholder concerns. The SAG consisted of members from agencies such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, ADEQ, the Arizona Game and Fish Department, the U.S. Forest Service, the AZ ARNG, as well as three community members. Remedial activities in the OB/OD area included: repair and replacement of the fence around the OB/OD area, conducting an airborne ordnance detection survey, posting warning signs around the OB/OD area in English and Spanish, conducting an archive search report, performing detonation pit sampling, consulting with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, conducting a biological survey, updating the community relations plan, and distributing a hunting advisory flyer.

Camp Navajo is home of several threatened and endangered species, including the bald eagle, northern goshawk, ferruginous hawk, osprey, peregrine falcon, the Mexican spotted owl and the Arizona toad. Other inhabitants include the pronghorn and elk. A protected activity center and critical habitat for the Mexican spotted owl is located in the south-eastern portion of the OB/OD Area. Due to the weather in the Bellemont area, the field season would normally last from May thru November. Because the Mexican spotted owl’s mating season is from March 1st to August 31st, conservation measures are implemented in consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

2003: During a soil and surface water sampling event in January, submunitions were encountered in the historical OB/OD Area. In response to this finding, the area was closed and access was prohibited.

The NGB obtained approval of a Department of Army waiver, which allowed access back into the area for environmental cleanup activities. The NGB prepared the following documents for ADEQ’s review: 1) background and Remediation Metal Standards technical memorandum, 2) an archive search report, 3) the draft-final report Airborne Geophysical Survey for unexploded ordnance, 4) the community relations plan, and 5) the final draft summary letter report of the Open Detonation Pit Sampling event.

During the summer, the NGB completed a surface sweep of the ground in the former White Phosphorus open detonation and burn area (aka Chemical Canyon, NAAD 03) which allowed for a remedial investigation (RI) and feasibility study (FS) to be performed Items retrieved were detonated in a contained detonation chamber and wastes were properly disposed. A geophysical survey was performed after the sweep was completed. The geophysical survey was used to determine areas that may have been used for open burning or detonation of white phosphorus rounds.