EPA Settlement Addresses Alleged Hazardous Waste Violations at US Technology Site in Fort Smith, Ark.
DALLAS – (August 3, 2021) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 6 recently announced a settlement regarding alleged hazardous waste violations at the US Technology Corporation (UST) site in Fort Smith, Arkansas. The settlement alleges several companies generated hazardous waste that was proposed for recycling but was instead stored by the owner and operator of UST without a Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) permit. The 10 Respondents to the case are cooperating fully with EPA to remove over five million pounds of hazardous waste from the UST site, which is located in a community with environmental justice concerns. Because the site is less than half a mile from a residential area and next to the flood-prone Arkansas River, it was important to remove the waste as quickly as possible following the finalization of the settlement to protect area residents and the environment, especially ahead of the most active period of hurricane season.
“Today’s settlement reflects EPA’s commitment to protect human health and the environment by ensuring compliance with state and federal environmental laws,” said Acting Regional Administrator David Gray. “Through this settlement, EPA demonstrates that it will hold companies responsible for failing to take necessary steps to dispose of hazardous waste properly and prevent contamination near vulnerable communities.”
In April 2018, EPA’s investigation of the UST facility found a warehouse containing an estimated 10,000 drums and 1,200 super sacks of waste which contains a blend of spent, blast, and related material that when recycled is used to make concrete products known as SBM, totaling about 6,854,400 pounds of material. EPA inspectors collected samples of the stored waste for laboratory analysis, which found the samples to be hazardous waste for lead, chromium, and cadmium. Therefore, the waste was subject to hazardous waste regulations under RCRA, which require a generator of hazardous waste to be responsible for the waste from “cradle to grave,” including ensuring the waste is legally recycled or disposed.
Throughout the settlement process, EPA worked closely with the Arkansas Department of Energy and Environment’s Division of Environmental Quality (ADEQ). While dozens of companies’ hazardous waste was stored improperly at the UST facility, the 10 Respondents agreed to work with EPA to remove quantities of waste, beyond their allocated amounts, to prevent potential environmental impacts. Under the settlement, Respondents will remove the majority of the waste, including waste that had been generated by companies that EPA could not locate or are currently out of business. EPA will continue to work with any other RCRA generators to remove the remaining drums while this settlement addresses the removal of nearly 80 percent of the waste in a timely manner.
The settlement was structured to allow for removal of the hazardous waste to prevent any harm to human health and the environment, and specifically at this time in anticipation of the most active period of hurricane season. Because the super sack containers have begun degrading, those have been prioritized for removal. To expedite the cleanup, Respondents agreed to use a single contractor to remove the waste. In preparation for the removal activities, on July 16, 2021, ADEQ’s staff conducted a site visit and documented the current state of the warehouse, the material, the surrounding perimeter of the warehouse, and the enclosure of the property by a secured gate to establish a baseline of the site’s conditions prior to the start of cleanup activities.
The 10 Respondents to the case who are working to remove the hazardous waste are: National Oilwell Varco L.P.; VSE Corporation; American Airlines, Inc.; Solar Turbines Incorporated; Goodrich Corporation; AAR Landing Gear Corporation; AV Task, Inc.; Varec Biogas, Inc.; Honeywell International, Inc.; and Kansas Dry Stripping, Inc.
For more about the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act: https://www.epa.gov/laws-regulations/summary-resource-conservation-and-recovery-act
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