Location and Description: The former Sioux
City Army Air Base, now known as the Sioux City
Municipal Airport, comprises 2,242 acres
and is located six miles from downtown Sioux City, Iowa. In April 1942, the city of Sioux City
leased 1,441 acres of property to the United States for
use by the Army Air Forces as an airbase, airport,
cantonment, training school, and military reservation. In
1947 and 1948, the War Assets Administration
surrendered its 1942 lease and quitclaim deeded to the
city of Sioux City, including the aqua gasoline system
and its associated tanks.
The city of Sioux City then
operated the site as a municipal airport. In December
1951, the United States again began leasing property for use by the Air Force. The Air Force had a
fighter-interceptor base at the site from 1952 through 1960, and then a semiautomatic ground
environment installation from 1960 through 1968. The Air Force deactivated the semiautomatic
ground environment installation in September 1968.
In June 1970, the United States quit-claimed
and released the remaining property to which it had a lease hold. Once again, throughout all the
time that the Department of Defense (DoD) was at the site after 1948, the city of Sioux City mainly
utilized the property as its municipal airport and has had other lessees/tenants who serviced airport-related
needs, including airplane maintenance, refueling, and fuel storage. Currently most of the site
is owned by the city of Sioux City for public airport purposes, along with the Iowa Air National Guard
and the Department of the Navy.
Problem and Response: The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) previously sent
letters to Sioux City regarding the initiation of free product recovery. However, as state underground
storage tank (UST) funds would be used to pay for the free product recovery, both IDNR and Sioux
City want DoD to pay for or do the work. In an examination of contemporaneous records from the
period of time that the DoD leased property and tanks from the city of Sioux City, there is no
evidence upon which to base a determination of governmental liability.
The city leased the tanks
thought to be the source of the petroleum free product to lessees such as Graham Flying Service
and Airways Service. It has been the established position of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that
the government will not undertake the removal of the petroleum free product, or take financial
responsibility for such removal, based on the solid legal and factual defenses available to the United
Activities for 2015: Support Omaha District Office of Counsel, when requested, with
information regarding path forward, to project closeout activities.
Issues and Other Information: Areas of conflict/concern involve property ownership
issues, beneficial use by other lessees, and the legal responsibility for the existing petroleum free
product plumes on the part of owners and operators of USTs and fuel system at the time of the