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Release Date: 1/30/2002
Contact Information: Mike Ardito, Press Office, 415/972-3081

     Public Hearing in Honolulu on March 6
     SAN FRANCISCO   The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced its proposal to renew the U.S. Air Force's permit to clean up hazardous waste on Johnston Atoll.          

     The permit will allow the Air Force to remediate and monitor its existing hazardous waste.  No more will be brought to Johnston Atoll for treatment or storage.  The EPA is proposing to issue the permit for 10 years to allow continued monitoring of certain areas to ensure the areas do not require further cleanup.

     This permit renewal is not connected to closure activities being conducted at the Johnston Atoll Chemical Agent Disposal System, or "JACADS," facility.

     The most environmentally significant action in this proposal involves the thermal treatment of dioxin and PCB contamination at three areas.  All other Air Force areas are proposed for additional monitoring or no further action.  Once the cleanup is complete, the thermal treatment unit will be shut down and removed from the island.

     "We believe this permit renewal ensures that the U.S. Air Force will clean up contamination on the island in a way that will be safe for people, fish, birds and other wildlife," said Arlene Kabei, associate director for the EPA's hazardous waste management program in the Pacific Southwest.

     People can submit comments on the proposed permit until March 15 to the EPA's San Francisco office.  In addition, the agency will hold a public hearing on the proposed permit at Washington Intermediate School, 1633 South King Street in Honolulu on March 6 beginning at 8 p.m.  A question and answer session will be held there
from 6:30 to 7:45 p.m.

     In February 1992, the EPA issued a 10-year permit to the Air Force and Defense Nuclear Agency to store hazardous waste on Johnston Atoll.  The Air Force submitted an application for permit renewal in August 2001.