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Air Force closes banned vehicle waste wells

The U.S. Air Force 611th Air Support Group operating out of Alaska has closed four motor vehicle waste disposal wells that violated federal laws that protect the nation’s sources of drinking water, according to a settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Air Force used these wells to dispose of fluids generated in the maintenance shops at several sites across the state.

EPA banned the use of motor vehicle waste disposal wells nationwide in 2000 because of the risks they pose to drinking water sources.

While these four banned wells were not in drinking water protection areas, many motor vehicle waste disposal wells are located in areas of known underground drinking water sources. There are nearly 400 banned wells EPA is aware of in Alaska that have yet to be closed.

Motor vehicle waste disposal wells typically contain fluids such as engine oil, brake fluid, gasoline, diesel or cleaning solvents. Such fluids can contain heavy metals and petroleum products, which pose a risk to health and the environment.

In addition to closing the wells, the U.S. Air Force agreed to pay $45,000 as part of a separate settlement with EPA to resolve the violations.