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Military may shutter Lathrop’s Sharpe Depot

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POSTED May 1, 2013 2:18 a.m.

LATHROP – After more than 75 years of providing jobs to the local economy, the future of the 724-acre military installation now known as Defense Distribution Depot San Joaquin – Sharpe is uncertain.

On Tuesday the Defense Logistics Agency – the government entity charged with combat logistics support and the delivery of all military goods to troops in each of the four major branches of the service – announced the opening of the mandatory 30-day environmental assessment period for the undertaking known as the Sharpe Permit Relinquishment Project.

According to the advertisement that was posted in The Bulletin, the move would relinquish the permit that the DLA currently holds for the parcel in Lathrop and return it back into the care of the Department of the Army. Sign postings along Interstate 5 and throughout the area have long referred to the area by its original name – Sharpe Army Depot.

The notice says the environmental assessment will evaluate the potential environmental impacts of relinquishing the permit and moving the operations to the DLA facility in Tracy as well as other, not-yet-determined sites.

 Residents and employees have until May 30 to formally make their comments. The DLA says that it will respond to all comments received in writing or via e-mail before making a final decision or announcement about the future of the base.

“Sharpe has always been a big part of Lathrop, and I know several people personally that work out there,” said Lathrop Mayor Sonny Dhaliwal, who said that he had heard some rumblings about possible closures but nothing concrete. “I hope that if that is the case they move those jobs to Tracy. I have to talk with staff to learn a little bit more about what’s going on out there.”

While other military installations in the region have had somewhat of a resurgence after they’ve outlived what was perceived to be their usefulness – Mather Field in Rancho Cordova is now home to a Veterans Administration Hospital as well as a business park – finding a suitable use on the Sharpe base might be somewhat difficult.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, day-to-day operations from 1941 through 1975 – maintenance of aircraft and vehicles as well as industrial and medical equipment – resulted in chemical waste being produced handily. Sludges containing phenols, polychlorinated hydrocarbons and used paints and solvents reportedly contaminated both soil and nearby groundwater.

The facility is now a Superfund site, and work to clean-up the contamination has been underway since 1987. 

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