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35 Alaska Just. F. 1 (2018)

handle is hein.journals/aljufor35 and id is 1 raw text is: 















Environmental justice:

Challenges of contaminated site cleanup in rural AK


Paula Williams and Pamela Cravez
While working in Western Alaska a decade
ago, residents of Elim, a small village near
Nome  on the Bering Sea, told Paula about
how  they had stopped fishing and hunting
near an abandoned military site. When the
military closed the site, they dug a big hole
and buried everything. Now, the fish in the
river and animals near the abandoned site
were no longer healthy and were unsafe to
eat, one resident told Paula.
  At the time, efforts to clean up hazardous
wastes left by the abandoned military site
at Moses Point had been going on for more
than 20 years. Cleanup continues today.
  Rural communities in Alaska, which rely
greatly upon the environment for their live-
lihood, are disproportionately impacted by
environmental contamination. These com-
munities also struggle more to get the re-
sources to have contaminated sites cleaned.
  Alaska is ranked third in the United States


for the number  of properties eligible for
cleanup under the Formerly Used Defense
Sites (FUDS) program. Many of the proper-


Contaminated sites in Alaska, FY 2017. Contaminated Sites Database, Alaska Department of Environmental
Conservation (http://dec.alaska.gov/spar/csp.aspx).


ties were contaminated during World War II,
or during the Cold War, when the long-term
effects of chemicals were not understood,
and the accepted means of disposal was to


bury or abandon anything that was too ex-
pensive to transport out of Alaska.
  Most of these properties are in remote
locations. Cleanup projects that are begun
may take many years to complete due to the
complicated nature of each site, according
to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE,
2015).


l Superfund and  FUDS
  In the 1980s, Congress created programs
such as the Comprehensive Environmental
Response Compensation  and  Liability Act
(CERCLA), also known as Superfund, and the


Formerly Used Defense Site (FUDS) program,
to  provide oversight, coordination, and
funding to address abandoned  or uncon-
trolled hazardous waste from military, civil-
ian, commercial and other sources. However,
the breadth, complexity and cost of cleanup
is no match for funds available, especially
in rural Alaska (Hogan, Christopherson, &
Rothe, 2006; EPA, 2018a; USACE, n.d. (b)).
  As of the end of 2017, the U.S. Army Corps
of Engineers had spent about $980 million
on FUDS  investigation and cleanup work,
according to John  Budnik, Public Affairs
Specialist with the U.S. Army Corps of Engi-
neers - Alaska District. The estimated cost
for cleanup of all remaining known FUDS
projects in Alaska is $1.4 billion. Funding
for 2018 is $35 million, according to Budnik,
who  provided the following accounting of
FUDS properties.


    Please see Environmental justice, page 2

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