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The U.S. Navy has agreed to pay a $38,500 penalty to settle alleged hazardous waste violations at Patuxent River Naval Air Station as well as the annex at Webster Field.
The Environmental Protection Agency inspected the Navy base during four days in June 2008 and found multiple violations, although most involved delinquency in preventative measures dealing with hazardous materials, an EPA spokesperson said, adding that none were immediately dangerous to people.
The violations were found in 11 buildings, including public works transportation, the hazmat warehouse, hangar, fleet readiness center, the Navy Exchange and the materials lab.
“There were so many buildings involved,” Donna Heron, a press officer for EPA, said. “We send our inspectors out with a checklist.”
Among the violations were mislabeling on a 55-gallon drum canister filled with used paint filters in a building at Webster Field. Also, the spill area for fuel at the Pax River Navy Exchange was not properly maintained, according to the inspectors.
“Each place has got its own issues,” Heron said.
Several glass vials in a plastic baggie in the hangar Building 109 were missing hazardous waste labels, while a cardboard box marked “empty” in Building 201 (VX-23 Strike) had seven aerosol cans that still had material inside.
Fifty-nine large, 55-gallon drums in the hazmat warehouse (Building 653) were not inspected weekly and were stored without leaving enough room for an aisle. In addition, some of the labels on the containers were not visible.
“When dealing with hazardous materials violations, the things you see here are pretty common,” Heron said.
“NAS Patuxent River has worked hard following the 2008 inspection, passing numerous annual inspections since, to be good stewards of our shared environment and we have a robust training and management plan to ensure employees are aware of environmental standards and best practices,” Gary Younger, public affairs officer for Pax River, said in a statement. “Most of the violations were administrative or procedural in nature, and the EPA noted the Navy's cooperation in resolving this matter.”
According to a statement from the EPA, the Navy has certified its compliance with applicable hazardous waste requirements and the settlement reflects the Navy’s cooperation in resolving the matter.
The settlement is based on EPA’s allegations that the base violated the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, which is the federal law governing the treatment, storage and disposal of hazardous waste. The act is designed to protect public health and the environment, and avoid costly cleanups, by requiring the safe, environmentally sound storage and disposal of hazardous waste, according to the EPA.