The fine was originally $1 million, but garrison attorneys were able to negotiate it down based on differences in their agreements with the state and federal government, officials said.
The fine was paid out of the garrison fund.
The issue originated in the base’s motor pools, where troops were improperly handling some hazardous waste by not using the correct containers and not properly labeling when the waste was stored, according to a copy of the settlement obtained by Army Times.
Documenting the date of storage for waste is important, because there are federal restrictions on how long waste can be sitting at certain locations.
Officials at Fort Hood, Texas, would not comment on the specifics of the case and the settlement document.
“No further details on the case will be provided at this time,” garrison commander Col. Jason Wesbrock said in a statement to Army Times. “Having said that, Fort Hood is a standard-based organization and going forward, we have made changes to be in compliance with these standards as outlined by the Environmental Protection Agency."
The settlement with the EPA, signed June 5, listed several points that Fort Hood failed to comply with: storing hazardous waste without a permit at multiple locations, failing to make hazardous waste determinations on all solid waste streams at 12 separate locations, failing to comply with the standards for spent lead-acid batteries being reclaimed and attempting to treat hazardous waste without a permit by using paint stripper to strip military specification paint from contaminated rags before disposal.
Service members and contractors who worked around burn pits downrange, and later suffered from lung and respiratory issues, may soon get a breath of fresh air.
EPA inspectors also noted that the garrison failed to comply with the standards for large quantity handlers of universal waste, which is what Fort Hood is considered.
The installation is required to manage universal waste batteries in a way that prevents the release of any of it into the environment. However, EPA inspectors found spent lithium batteries stored on shelves and on wooden pallets and not in containers with markings to indicate that it was universal waste and to identify the date of accumulation.
Fort Hood garrison also failed to comply with the applicable standards for storing used oil, finding that it was left in containers that were not closed and not managed in a manner to prevent release.
Fort Hood Department of Public Works environmental division said the mishandling of waste was due to a procedural misunderstanding caused by following state regulations that allowed the base to consider the various forms of waste as a used product.
Before, soldiers were storing the waste at a used product reclamation point and then turning those items over to the garrison environmental staff who would categorize it as hazardous, non-hazardous or universal waste, according to a Department of Public Works explanation of the issue.
That will no longer be the process. Instead, the products will be categorized and stored properly as soon as soldiers at the motor pool determine that the spent material is no longer usable to them, officials said.
The EPA will return to inspect Fort Hood’s more than 100 facilities. Inspectors want the base in full compliance by March 2020.