Alaska Army post reduces fuel tank water contamination risk in EPA settlement

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SEATTLE, WA, July 2, 2014 -- According to a settlement with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Army is taking steps to improve management of its fuel storage tanks and comply with federal laws designed to protect groundwater at Fort Wainwright Garrison, located near Fairbanks, Alaska.

EPA inspections found that from at least 2012 to 2013, Fort Wainwright failed to perform leak detection tests, monitor underground storage tanks regularly and investigate suspected releases as required under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).

"Underground tanks hold hundreds or even thousands of gallons of fuel and other liquids that can leak into groundwater if not properly maintained," said Peter Contreras, manager of the Groundwater Unit at the EPA Seattle office. "Communities in Fairbanks, including those living at Fort Wainwright, depend on groundwater for drinking water. Fuel tanks have to be in compliance and in good working order to protect water resources."

Fort Wainwright uses the tanks, some of which have a capacity to hold up to 30,000 gallons, to store gasoline, diesel, used oil, jet fuel, and anti-freeze. These products are used in vehicles, jets, emergency generators, ski hill and golf course maintenance carts, and other equipment. EPA found that 19 out of 20 tanks at Fort Wainwright were out of compliance.

Fort Wainwright has hired a new operator who will manage compliance with federal and state underground storage tank requirements. In addition, some of the tanks have been decommissioned and taken out of service. Fort Wainwright agreed to pay a penalty of nearly $158,700 for violations of the RCRA.

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