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U.S. EPA certifies JACADS facility has been properly cleaned and closed

Release Date: 08/31/2009
Contact Information: Dean Higuchi, 808-541-2711, higuchi.dean@epa.gov

Agency announces U.S. Army work has been properly done to clean up facility

(08/31/09) HONOLULU – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced that the Johnston Atoll Chemical Agent Disposal System (JACADS) facility has been properly closed.

The EPA completed its multi-year review of the Army’s closure and sampling reports and through the EPA’s own analyses considers the JACADS facility to have met all of its permit requirements for closing the facility.

“Over the 15 years of JACADS' construction and operation, the EPA closely monitored the facility to ensure safe operations and prevent chemical releases.” said Jeff Scott, director of the EPA’s Pacific Southwest Region’s Waste Management Division. “Our closure decision brings a successful end to this project to safely dispose of 4 million pounds of toxic chemical weapons while protecting the former workers and wildlife on Johnston Atoll,”

In September 2002, the EPA approved the revised closure plan, which allowed the U.S. Army to begin cleanup of the facility. In July 2003 the Army completed the environmental sampling necessary for the closure and demolition of the JACADS incinerators and began demolition of the Munitions Demilitarization Building that housed the incinerators. In September 2003 the army completed the remainder of the environmental sampling. The closure, cleanup, and dismantling effort took approximately three years, from May 2001 to January 2004.

On Nov. 29, 2000, JACADS safely destroyed the last of over 400,000 obsolete chemical weapons collected from Okinawa and other U.S. military bases in the Pacific Basin and West Germany between 1971 and 1991. With the weapons destruction complete, the Army was required to decommission JACADS. The EPA's environmental oversight helped the Army safely incinerate over 4 million pounds of extremely toxic chemicals by destroying the poisons at the molecular level. The weapons had been stored in concrete igloos on the one-square mile island 800 miles southwest of Hawaii.

The EPA’s closure approval assures protection from impact of JACADS for not only human health, but also for the ecology and environment of this important and sensitive component of the Johnston Island National Wildlife Refuge, now part of the new Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument.

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