Report says base toxins not a health risk

Posted: Sunday, August 17, 2003

FAIRBANKS (AP) A federal agency has concluded that residents near Fort Wainwright have not had enough exposure to toxins to cause health problems, despite widespread contamination at the base.

The report released this week is the culmination of an assessment that began in 1990 when Fort Wainwright was declared a Superfund site, said Sue Neurath of the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.

The report concluded that the most common contaminants at the base are volatile organic compounds, pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls, petroleum, oils and lubricants.

But the agency found that people living near Fort Wainwright have not been exposed to contaminants at levels that could result in health problems.

One reason is that the polluted sites are not easily accessible to the public or have low contamination levels. The Army also has worked to remove many contaminants, the report stated.

The agency also found that exposure to contamination in Fort Wainwright wells or in well of the surrounding area has not resulted in past or current health hazards.

The Army has spent millions of dollars since the Superfund designation to clean up the contamination, most of which occurred when Fort Wainwright's main function was aircraft refueling. Leaks and poor disposal techniques led to contamination around fuel tanks, hangars and pipeline systems.

The agency is seeking public comment on the report through Sept. 15. The comments will be added to a final public health assessment.



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