The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reached a settlement with Fort Smith, Arkansas-based US Technology Corp. (UST) regarding alleged hazardous waste violations at a site near the Arkansas River.
The settlement states 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 permit. The material in question was stored at the site from 2010-2016, said Morgan Acuff, communications and media specialist with the Arkansas Department of Energy and Environment’s Division of Environmental Quality (ADEQ).
As part of the agreement, the involved companies are required to remove over five million pounds of hazardous waste from the site. Due to the site’s close proximity to the flood-prone Arkansas River, the EPA says it is important to remove the waste as quickly as possible following the finalization of the settlement to protect area residents and the environment.
“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 in a release. “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, an EPA 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.
While dozens of companies’ hazardous waste was stored improperly at the UST facility, 10 companies have agreed to work with EPA to remove quantities of waste, beyond their allocated amounts, to prevent potential environmental impacts. These respondents to the case include: National Oilwell Varco L.P.; VSE Corp.; American Airlines Inc.; Solar Turbines Inc.; Goodrich Corp.; AAR Landing Gear Corp.; AV Task Inc.; Varec Biogas Inc.; Honeywell International Inc.; and Kansas Dry Stripping Inc.
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.
To expedite the cleanup, respondents agreed to use a single contractor to remove the waste.