The Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday order the Army to take “expedited corrective measures” at the former Fort Gillem located outside of Atlanta, after the service failed to take mitigation measures when its tests revealed toxic vapor in dozens of homes.
The Army has collected air samples from 56 homes and businesses surrounding the installation over the summer, and plans to test additional residences. The vapors are believed to stem from groundwater contamination that seeped off of the post.
“Both EPA and the GaEPD [Georgia Environmental Protection Division] are concerned at the service’s failure to implement the expeditious mitigation measures that are revealed by the study to be warranted for numerous residents,” according to a press release from EPA Region 4.
EPA’s order requires the Army to:
- evaluate whether the air in residential and other properties surrounding the former installation contains hazardous contaminants;
- document the levels of the contaminants;
- determine the level of risk posed by those contaminants to persons living or working on properties surrounding Fort Gillem; and
- mitigate any unacceptable risk to humans.
It also requires the Army to evaluate whether wells or springs surrounding the installation contain hazardous contaminants, document the levels of contaminants and take “all appropriate action to expeditiously mitigate any unacceptable risks to persons using such wells or springs.”
The Army’s indoor air vapor intrusion study was approved by state officials with technical assistance from EPA. “However, the Army has significantly deviated from the approved study work plan, and without reassurance from the Army that it intends to resume the strict implementation of that plan, EPA deems it necessary to take this action,” the release states.
The Army has 10 days to respond to the order. If it fails to respond, the order becomes effective on the 11th day, according to the EPA.