EPA settles with Anchorage military base for hazardous waste violations

News Releases from Region 10

Action prompts resumption of recycling “mountains” of expended small arms brass cartridges


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(Seattle )  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage, Alaska, today announced a settlement for violations of federal laws governing the handling, storage, and disposal of hazardous wastes.

On October 9, 2019, JBER self-disclosed that approximately 200,000 pounds of expended small-arms cartridge casings (ESACCs) had been stockpiled and were determined to be toxic from lead contamination.  The Base had successfully recycled all its brass casings until 2017, when the recycling was discontinued.  The resolution of this case sets the stage for a resumption of the ESACC recycling program, and the proceeds will fund other base-wide recycling efforts at JBER.

“The military is obligated to properly manage solid and hazardous waste, just like other regulated entities,“ said Ed Kowalski, Director of EPA’s Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Division in Seattle.  “This settlement at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson holds the U.S. Air Force accountable, paves the way for the recycling program restart and protects public health and the environment.”

Under the terms of the settlement, EPA is allowing JBER to recycle the brass ESACCs rather than dispose of them in a permitted RCRA treatment, storage, and disposal facility. In accordance with a structured timeline, JBER must decontaminate the building where the scrap brass cartridges are stored, report to EPA on its progress recycling the ESACCs, and notify EPA when the recycling is completed. This settlement also resolves universal waste management violations identified during an October 7-9, 2019, EPA Base inspection.

JBER demonstrated a cooperative attitude during the course of settlement negotiations and is in the process of correcting the violations and instituting new measures to prevent their recurrence. The Base has paid a $61,554 penalty as part of the settlement. 

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