FAA/EPA to close Alaskan vehicle waste disposal wells
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
has pledged to permanently close over two dozen motor vehicle
waste disposal wells in Alaska. The FAA action resulted from
an administrative order on consent issued by the United States
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The FAA Alaska Region has committed to closing the wells, known
as injections wells, by 2012. The injection wells, built mainly
in the 1940s and 1950s and located across the state, were used
by FAA to dispose of fluids collected through maintenance facility
floor drains. Disposed fluids likely included motor vehicle waste
such as engine oil, brake fluid, fuel, cleaning solvents and
other materials. FAA has not used the injection wells for motor
vehicle waste in years.
Under the Safe Drinking Water Act, EPA banned this category of
wells in 1999 and required their closure in Alaska by 2005. Motor
vehicle waste disposal wells can contaminate underground sources
of drinking water. Since FAA self-identified its wells to EPA
in 1996, it has already closed half its inventory and has been
actively working to close the rest of its injection wells to
comply with the law.
Underground injection wells are often used in areas where sewage
treatment facilities are not available. When an injection well
is used for fluid disposal, it is important to ensure that no
harmful substances that could endanger drinking water sources
FAA entered into the order voluntarily and is working with EPA
to document the well closures.