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Army settles with EPA for hazardous waste violations at Fort Wainwright, Alaska

Release Date: 12/08/2015
Contact Information: Suzanne Skadowski, 206-553-2160, 206-900-3309

(Seattle – December 8, 2015) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has reached a settlement with the U.S. Army for alleged violations of its hazardous waste permit at Fort Wainwright, Alaska. As part of the settlement, the Army has agreed to pay $59,220 in penalties for violations of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).

The Army facility is covered under a RCRA permit, which requires the Army to notify EPA of any new or newly discovered solid waste management units. EPA alleges that the Army violated its RCRA permit by failing to notify the Agency when an old munitions and explosives dump was discovered within the Fort’s Small Arms Range Complex in June 2013. The Army failed to notify EPA within the required 15 days when it investigated the dump and failed to provide a required assessment of the dump. EPA learned of the dump more than a year later in a technical memo from the Army’s contractor.

“Compliance with hazardous waste permits helps us protect Army staff and the community from potentially dangerous materials,” said Ed Kowalski, Director of EPA’s Pacific Northwest Office of Compliance and Enforcement. “Failure to notify EPA could have delayed and impeded our ability to ensure timely, appropriate actions were taken to protect people and the environment.”

Fort Wainwright is located on the eastern border of Fairbanks, encompassing over 900,000 acres and includes a range complex, maneuver areas, missile sites, and a garrison. EPA listed Fort Wainwright on the Superfund National Priorities List in 1990. Lead, brass, and other heavy metals from the munitions dump were eroding into the Tanana River, and at the time of the initial investigation in 2013, it was unclear if there was unexploded ordnance in the dump. In 2015, the Army conducted a partial cleanup at the site, removing over 319,830 pounds of “Material Deemed As Safe,” 152 items identified as “Munitions and Explosives of Concern,” and 5,625 buried and unfired 50 caliber rounds. The Army will conduct additional cleanup in 2016.

The RCRA permit program helps protect public health and the environment by requiring the safe, environmentally-sound storage and disposal of hazardous waste. Learn more about EPA’s RCRA compliance and enforcement work at: http://www2.epa.gov/enforcement/waste-chemical-and-cleanup-enforcement.