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U.S. EPA APPROVES PLAN FOR CLEANUP OF ASH ON JOHNSTON ATOLL

Release Date: 5/19/1995
Contact Information: Lois Grunwald, U.S. EPA, (415) 744-1588

    (San Francisco)-- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
(U.S. EPA) today approved a temporary permit modification for the
Defense Nuclear Agency (DNA) so that work can begin on the
cleanup of a lead-contaminated mound of ash on the northwest side
of Johnston Atoll.


     "It is important that this ash pile be cleaned up as quickly
as possible," said Jeff Zelikson, U.S. EPA's hazardous waste
management division director. "The longer the ash is left
untreated and uncontrolled, the greater the risk to human health
and the environment."


     Cleanup of the site is necessary to prevent the ash from
becoming windborne during the hurricane season or from leaching
lead into the soil.

    DNA's existing permit regulates the storage of hazardous
wastes on Johnston Atoll. It is unrelated to the federal permit
that allows the U.S. Army to destroy chemical weapons at the
Johnston Atoll Chemical Weapons Disposal facility.


     DNA will treat approximately 10,000 cubic yards of ash that
contains lead residues left from batteries burned at the site
along with non-hazardous refuse from the 1,500 people that work
at the various military facilities on Johnston Atoll. The
treatment, which will involve adding a lime mixture to the ash to
neutralize the lead waste, will render the levels of leachable
lead to below the hazardous waste level of five parts per
million.


     After treatment, the pile will be buried in a disposal site
away from a seawall that is near its present location. It will be
covered with material to prevent the ash from becoming windblown,
and vegetation will be planted to prevent erosion. U.S. EPA is
requiring DNA to routinely inspect and maintain the site.


     The ash is solely solid waste remains and does not contain
ash from the incineration of chemical weapons at the chemical
weapons destruction facility.


     In January 1992, the U.S. EPA issued a federal Resource
Conservation and Recovery Act permit to DNA for storage of dioxin
contaminated soils and materials. The permit also outlines the
process for cleanup of all solid waste disposal sites on Johnston
Atoll. On February 10, 1995, DNA submitted a request to U.S. EPA
to modify the permit to expedite the cleanup of the ash waste.


     DNA and the Air Force, which owns the ash mound property,
held a public meeting on the proposed permit modification and
cleanup in March 1995. U.S. EPA's temporary approval of the
modification is good for 180 days, and U.S. EPA expects to act on
the final permit modification by that time.


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