Air Force agrees to pay penalty for hazardous waste violations in Alaska

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today (June 23rd, 2022) that the U.S. Air Force has agreed to pay a $206,811 penalty for hazardous waste storage and handling violations at the Eareckson Air Station on Shemya Island in Alaska.

In an agreement signed last week, EPA alleges the Air Force stored hazardous wastes at the air station without a permit and failed to properly label and inspect waste containers and an above-ground storage tank in which the hazardous wastes were stored.

EPA found that the Air Force improperly stored more than a ton of hazardous paints, hydrochloric acid, methyl ethyl ketone, and oxidizers, and more than 25 tons of hazardous waste fuel and oil. These wastes were stored for years longer than allowed under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act which governs the handling of hazardous wastes.

The agency also determined the Air Force failed to properly manage its universal waste, including batteries, lamps, and aerosol cans.

In addition to paying the $206,811 penalty, the Air Force has also agreed to ship off-site and properly dispose of approximately 55,000 pounds of hazardous waste by the end of June 2022, improve its hazardous waste and universal waste management practices, and appropriately close the area where hazardous waste was improperly stored.

“EPA rigorously enforces our hazardous waste regulations to ensure these wastes are managed in ways that protect people’s health and the environment,” said Ed Kowalski, director of the Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Division of EPA’s Region 10 office in Seattle. “We’re grateful that the Air Force has acknowledged its mistakes and stepped up to its responsibilities to fix the problem.”

Details of the violations EPA found at Eareckson Air Base can be found in the Consent Agreement and Final Order.