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EPA Orders Army to Take Corrective Measures at Fort Gillem

Release Date: 09/24/2014
Contact Information: Contact Information: James Pinkney, (404) 562-9183 (Direct), (404) 562-8400 (Main)

(ATLANTA – September 24, 2014) EPA Region 4 issued an Order today that requires the U.S. Army take expedited corrective measures at the former Fort Gillem in Forest Park, Georgia.

EPA issued the Order under Section 7003 of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), which is intended to address an imminent and substantial endangerment to health or the environment related to past waste handling activities. The Army has 10 days in which it may respond to the 7003 order. If the Army does not respond, the Order becomes effective on the 11th day after the date of receipt. EPA believes that an Order is necessary to protect the health of the community and the environment surrounding Fort Gillem.

The former military installation’s primary missions, which lasted from the 1940s until the base was closed in 2011 under the Base Realignment and Closure Act (BRAC) V, were training and materiel supply from World War II through the Persian Gulf conflict. The base was responsible for providing the Army with weapons and equipment, research and development, procurement, production, storage, distribution, inventory management, maintenance, and disposal of surplus and waste materials during both peacetime and wartime. These activities resulted in soil, sediment, surface water, and groundwater contamination.

The work required by this Order evaluates whether indoor and/or ambient air in residential and other properties surrounding the former installation contains hazardous contaminants, documents the levels of such contaminants, determines the level of risk posed by those contaminants to the residents, owners, employees, students and invitees of properties surrounding Fort Gillem, and mitigates any unacceptable risk to those persons.

In addition, the work required by this Order identifies all private drinking water wells and springs in the area, evaluates whether wells or springs surrounding the former base contain hazardous contaminants, documents the levels of such contaminants, and takes all appropriate action to expeditiously mitigate any unacceptable risks to persons using such wells or springs.

While the U.S. Army has been conducting an indoor air vapor intrusion study approved by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GaEPD) with technical assistance from the EPA, both EPA and the GaEPD are concerned at the service’s failure to implement the expeditious mitigation measures that are revealed by the study to be warranted for numerous residents.

To date, the Army has collected air samples from 56 homes and businesses, and additional homes are expected to be sampled. However, the Army has significantly deviated from the approved study work plan, and without reassurance from the Army that it intends to resume the strict implementation of that plan, EPA deems it necessary to take this action.

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