Air Force Plant 85 is located 6 miles northeast of downtown Columbus, Ohio, in Franklin County, just south of Port Columbus International Airport. The plant occupies nearly 300 acres and ceased defense manufacturing in 1994. The plant was originally used for the production of naval aircraft during World War II. Curtiss-Wright Corp. produced naval aircraft at the plant until 1950 when the U.S. Navy took title to it. The plant was then renamed the Naval Industrial Reserve Aircraft Plant. At that time, North American Aviation (Rockwell International) took over plant operations and produced and tested naval aircraft and missile systems. In 1982, the Navy transferred title of the plant to the U.S. Air Force. After 1982, Rockwell International produced parts at the plant for production of the B1B bomber aircraft. From 1988 to 1994, McDonnell Douglas utilized the plant for the production of aircraft parts. Through a bidding process the Air Force sold the plant to a local investment group in 1997. The Air Force has retained the proceeds from the sale to be spent for environmental investigations and cleanup at the plant. The facility is now called the Columbus Air Center and has been renovated to accommodate warehouse space, office space and aircraft industries.
Past operations at the plant included machining, metal finishing, electroplating, forming, painting, coating and assembly. Wastes produced from these operations included acids from metal cleaning and electroplating, process tank sludges, cyanide wastes, chromium solutions, lime sludge, spent degreasers, and paint strippers. Process wastewater was treated at an onsite wastewater treatment plant. From 1941 to 1977, a fire-training area was used to burn waste oil, solvents and aviation fuels in training exercises. In addition, waste solvents and sludge were also collected and disposed of offsite. Numerous sites, where potential environmental concerns may exist, were identified at the plant in environmental baseline surveys (EBS) completed in 1994 and 1996.
The Air Force has completed significant clean-up activities at the plant. Prior to the sale of the plant, manufacturing and process area equipment were removed and cleaned. Numerous PCB transformers were removed, retrofitted and cleaned and PCB contaminated soil was removed. The former fire training area and Mason’s Run have also undergone cleanup activities.
Of more than 100 areas identified in the EBS, approximately five areas remain for additional investigation and cleanup including underground storage tanks, quench tanks, an autoclave pit, a paint shop and stream sediment.
Summary date: February 2007