EPA GIVES U.S. ARMY GREEN LIGHT TO PROCEED WITH PLAN TO CLOSE JOHNSTON ATOLL

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CHEMICAL WEAPONS DISPOSAL FACILITY

JOHNSTON ISLAND, Pacific Ocean (April 25, 2001 – U.S. Army)---The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region IX has granted the U.S. Army conditional approval of its plan for closing the Johnston Atoll Chemical Agent Disposal System (JACADS), the nation’s first facility designed for chemical weapons disposal.

The Army completed disposal operations at JACADS in November 2000 and has since been preparing to close the facility in accordance with environmental regulations.

To obtain full EPA approval, the Army will submit health and ecological risk assessment plans and sampling and analysis plans by mid-October to ensure that environmental standards are met.

Closure activities involve disposing of the facility‘s hazardous waste, cleaning the facility, sampling waste, and assessing risks for future use of the surrounding land areas.

The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, which governs the management and disposal of hazardous waste, requires that JACADS be closed in a manner that ensures it will not pose a future threat to people or the environment. EPA Region IX, the National Academy of Sciences National Research Council and the Department of Health and Human Services are among the organizations with oversight authority of JACADS’ closure.

"The EPA is giving the Army partial approval of the clean up and closure for the JACADS facility to enable the Army to incinerate waste created from dismantling and cleaning the facility. Other parts of the closure plan cannot be approved at this time, as they are still being developed," said Stacy Braye, project manager, EPA Region IX. "The EPA believes that these permit changes will allow the Army to finish clean up and closure of JACADS sooner and in a way that will still be safe for people, fish, birds, and other wildlife that live on and around Johnston Atoll."

The next milestone for JACADS closure involves installation of a system that will treat secondary wastes, which are the by-products from disposal and closure processes.

In 1985, Congress directed the Army to destroy all stockpiled chemical agent and weapons. The Army established the Program Manager for Chemical Demilitarization to oversee the safe destruction of chemical warfare material, ensuring maximum protection to human health and the environment. The nation’s chemical weapons stockpile is stored in Umatilla, Ore.; Pueblo, Colo; Tooele, Utah; Pine Bluff; Ark; Anniston, Ala.; Blue Grass, Ky; Newport, Ind; Endgewood, Md; and previously on Johnston Island in the Pacific Ocean.

For more information, contact: Barry Napp U.S. Army Program Manager for Chemical Demilitarization (PMCD) Public Outreach and Information Office (POIO) (410) 436-3629; (800) 488-0648 http://www-pmed.apgea.army.mil  or poio@pmcd.apgea.army.mil 

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