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U.S. Air Force 611th Air Support Group Closes Banned Motor Vehicle Waste Wells at Three Alaska Sites

Release Date: 04/01/2013
Contact Information: Hanady Kader, EPA Public Affairs, 206-553-0454, kader.hanady@epa.gov

EPA banned the use of motor vehicle waste disposal wells nationwide in 2000 because of the risks they pose to drinking water sources. Under the Safe Drinking Water Act, facilities in Alaska had until 2005 to permanently close this type of well.

“Closing these wells and removing contamination is the only sure way to prevent the harmful fluids in them from reaching Alaska’s drinking water aquifers,” said Peter Contreras, Manager of the Ground Water Unit at EPA’s Seattle office. “There are still banned wells in operation across the state, and we know that some wells have already caused contamination that needs to be cleaned up.”

While these four banned wells were not in drinking water protection areas, many motor vehicle waste disposal wells are located in areas of known underground drinking water sources. There are nearly 400 banned wells EPA is aware of in Alaska that have yet to be closed. EPA is working to identify and close banned wells.

The Air Force closed wells located at the Sparrevohn, Tatalina and Indian Mountain Long Range Radar Sites. The wells were in remote areas and did not pose an immediate threat to ground water drinking sources.

Motor vehicle waste disposal wells typically contain fluids such as engine oil, brake fluid, gasoline, diesel or cleaning solvents. Such fluids can contain heavy metals and petroleum products, which pose a risk to human health and the environment.

In addition to closing the wells, the U.S. Air Force agreed to pay $45,000 as part of a separate settlement with EPA to resolve the violations.

For more information on underground injection wells and motor vehicle waste disposal wells, visit: http://water.epa.gov/type/groundwater/uic/basicinformation.cfm#what_is