January 15, 2015

Section 7003 Used to Order Army to Investigate and Mitigate Indoor Air Quality

In one of the first actions of its kind, EPA has ordered the U.S. Army to investigate indoor and ambient air quality in residential and other properties near Ft. Gillem in Forest Park, GA. If these investigations uncover any unacceptable risk to residents and others in those areas, the Army is ordered to mitigate such risks. [In the Matter of: U.S. Army, EPA Region 4, Docket. No. RCRA-04-2014-4251, September 24, 2014] What is interesting about this order is EPA’s use of its RCRA Section 7003 authority, which gives the agency the right to address imminent and substantial endangerment to health or the environment.

Historically, Ft. Gillem was used as a training and material supply facility from World War II until its closure in 2011 under the Base Realignment and Closure Act. The site became contaminated from activities conducted during this time, including onsite disposal of solid and what would now be hazardous waste. Soil, ground water, surface water, and sediment are contaminated with several organics compounds, including spent solvents. Over time, the contamination migrated beyond the property boundaries, creating contaminated soil gas and potential vapor intrusion issues in the surrounding community.

Prior to EPA’s order, the Army had been conducting an investigative study on air contaminant issues in and around buildings surrounding the military establishment. The plan, approved by the state of Georgia, called for the Army to abate any threats found to the residents of the properties. According to EPA’s press release, the agency issued the Section 7003 order due to the Army’s “failure to implement the expeditious mitigation measures that are revealed by the study....”


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