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Army Settles EPA Complaints Over Waste Storage at Walter Reed Hospital and Fort Belvoir

Release Date: 8/30/1999
Contact Information: Donna M. Heron, 215-814-5113

WASHINGTON, D.C. and FORT BELVOIR, Va. -- The U.S. Army has settled two EPA administrative complaints alleging hazardous waste storage violations at two facilities: the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. and Fort Belvoir in Fairfax County, Va.

In the Walter Reed case, the Army agreed to pay a $50,400 penalty and complete a $1.6 million special project to purchase and implement a hazardous substance management system to be used at the D.C. facility and at the Forest Glen Annex in Silver Spring, Md.

In a separate settlement of the Fort Belvoir complaint, the Army will pay a $6,372 penalty and spend $45,000 to replace two halon-based fire suppression sprinkler systems with water-based systems.

In its October 1998 complaint involving Walter Reed, EPA alleged that the Army improperly stored laboratory chemicals without a permit, and failed to notify the EPA prior to receiving a shipment of hazardous waste from a U.S. Army facility in Thailand. Prior notification is required when waste is shipped to the U.S. from a foreign country.

The $1.6 million hazardous substance management project included in the Walter Reed settlement exceeds current regulatory requirements. The system will centralize the handling and tracking of hazardous material from purchase order to the time it leaves the facilities --either through use, turn-in for reuse, or for hazardous waste disposal.

In the September 1998 complaint against Fort Belvoir, EPA alleged that the Army failed to dispose of a discarded Mercury-filled measuring instrument in a timely manner. In addition, the Army also allegedly failed to properly track the disposal of one shipment of washer solvent that was shipped from the base in May 1996. Both violations were corrected shortly after EPA’s inspection.

The additional sprinkler system project at Fort Belvoir, which exceeds current regulatory requirements, is designed to reduce the environmental and health risks of a halon release. Halon is widely used in fire extinguishing materials. It is an ozone depleting chemical, and overexposure to this substance is linked to dizziness, impaired coordination and cardiac problems.

In both cases, the Army was cited under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, the principal federal statute regulating the treatment, storage, and disposal of hazardous waste.

The Army neither admitted nor denied liability in these settlement agreements.