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EPA Approves Army's Closure Plan for JACADS on Johnston Atoll

Release Date: 9/6/2002
Contact Information: Wendy Chavez, U.S. EPA, 415/947-4248,

     SAN FRANCISCO   The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today approved the U.S. Army's revised closure plan for the Johnston Atoll Chemical Agency Disposal System (JACADS) facility.

     "Approval of the revised plan provides the Army with a green light to proceed with closing the facility and returning Johnston Atoll conditions safe for people, birds and marine life," said Arlene Kabei, associate director for the EPA's hazardous waste management program for the Pacific Southwest office.

     The closure plan addresses the JACADS facility's dismantling, treatment of waste and methods of clean up. The  plan includes a human health and ecological risk assessment, a sampling and analysis plan, and a quality assurance project plan. The facility was designed to incinerate military weapons containing blister agent (known as mustard) and chemical nerve agent.  

     Beginning in 1990, with the world's first chemical weapons incinerator, the Army destroyed four million pounds of the chemical agent and chemical weapons originally stored on Johnston Atoll.  In November 2000, the Army destroyed the last of the remaining chemical weapons stockpiled there.

     After JACADS closure is complete, the atoll will remain a national wildlife refuge as established in 1926.  The atoll, an unincorporated territory of the U.S., is approximately 800 miles southwest of the Hawai'ian islands and will be turned over to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  The Army is required to ensure the area is in a safe condition upon departure.  

     Johnston supports a rich and varied ecosystem for thousands of nesting seabirds, beautiful corals and colorful tropical fish.  It consists of approximately 50 square miles of shallow coral reef surrounding four islands.

      Due to extensive comments from the EPA and the public, the Army revised its JACADS closure plan as announced through a public notice in Nov. 2001.  The Army held its most recent public meeting regarding the closure plan in Honolulu on Dec. 11, 2001.  The EPA received comments from the public on the revised closure plan in a comment period that ended Feb. 28, 2002.

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