EPA: Failure to report Wainwright munitions dump was oversight

Fort Wainwright has settled alleged violations of its hazardous waste permit for $60,000. The Environmental Protection Agency says the Army failed to report an abandoned ammunition dump.

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For 25 years Ft. Wainwright has been on the books as a Superfund site. EPA officials say it’s not uncommon for Army posts to have areas where buried munitions and unexploded ordinances create public health problems, many may not even be documented.

That was the case in 2013 when a new explosives dump was discovered at the post’s Small Arms Range Complex. The Army is supposed to report that sort of discovery within 15 days, says Suzanna Skadowski with the EPA, but that didn’t happen.

“We learned about the discovery of the munitions dump a year later when we received a technical memo from one of the Army’s contractors at the site.”

Skadowski says the fines for not reporting could have cost the Army more than $30 million. But EPA sees the incident as an oversight. With roughly a million acres, Ft. Wainwright has a lot of territory where surprises may lurk.  And Skadowski says the Army was cleaning up the site.

“A site might be used as a dump, covered up, and then forgotten about or just not followed up on. That’s what happened here.”

Skadowski says this year, thousands of pounds of material have been removed from Ft. Wainwright. But more work needs to be done.

Official at Ft. Wainwright were not available for comment by press time.

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