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Seattle — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently reached an agreement with Stepping Stone Builders, Inc., to close an illegal motor vehicle waste disposal well in Fairbanks, Alaska.
EPA banned motor vehicle waste disposal wells in 2000 and required all existing wells in Alaska closed by 2005 to protect underground sources of drinking water. During a 2016 inspection of Stepping Stone Builders, EPA found three motor vehicle repair and maintenance shops had floor drains illegally connected to a septic system. The wells and septic system are located within a groundwater protection area for a public drinking water system and close to other public water systems.
“Motor vehicle waste disposal wells have the potential to allow oil, antifreeze, brake fluid and other hazardous chemicals to contaminate drinking water sources and put people’s health at risk,” said Edward Kowalski, Director of the Office of Compliance and Enforcement in EPA’s Seattle office. “EPA will continue to focus on closing these illegal motor vehicle waste disposal wells to protect drinking water in Alaska.”
The company also paid a $36,500 penalty for the alleged violations of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. EPA regulations banned new motor vehicle waste disposal injection wells nationwide in 2000 and required closure of all existing wells in Alaska by 2005 due to their high potential to endanger underground sources of drinking water. About 80 percent of Alaskans depend on groundwater for drinking water, and in rural areas, the percentage rises to about 90 percent.
EPA is working with the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation to close an estimated 200 banned motor vehicle waste disposal wells remaining in Alaska. Owners and operators of facilities with these wells should contact EPA and Alaska DEC to learn how to improve their waste management practices to protect drinking water resources.
More information about motor vehicle waste disposal wells: https://www.epa.gov/uic/motor-vehicle-waste-disposal-wells.