The U.S. Army has violated state hazardous waste rules at Dugway Proving Ground for 7 1/2 years, according to the Utah Solid and Hazardous Waste Committee.
But state health officials and Dugway are proposing an agreement that would have the Army begin to comply with state regulations in exchange for the state not fining the Army for any past violations - which could have carried penalties of up to $10,000 per day.The Solid and Hazardous Waste Committee is accepting comments on the proposed settlement through July 13.
While the settlement says the Army makes no admission of guilt, it still outlines state claims that the Army has ignored rules for hazardous waste disposal for years. Some specific state claims include:
-Dugway has conducted open burning and detonation of regulated hazardous wastes since Nov. 19, 1980, "without interim status or a plan approval required for hazardous waste treatment, storage or disposal facilities."
-The Solid and Hazardous Waste Committee tried to stop that by issuing an order on Sept. 11, 1986, telling Dugway to comply with rules or face fines of up to $10,000 a day. But Dugway is still operating without permits.
-Two surface areas have impounded rinse waters and liquid residues from tests of nerve and mustard agents. Those types of wastes have legally been subject to state regulation since November 1986 - but action required by state rules has not occurred.
-Dugway is placing some hazardous wastes in canisters but cannot transport them off base because of Army regulations. So it needs - but has not obtained - a state permit for "on-site hazardous storage in excess of 90 days."
-Dugway excavated 640 cubic yards of soil at its Carr facility to study what types of hazardous wastes it may contain. The state complained that it hasn't been given analytical results of that soil, which is temporarily being stored on a pad at the base.
Kathleen B. Whitaker, Dugway public affairs officer, said the Army had tried all along to comply with hazardous wastes rules.
She said that in 1980, the Army as required by law supplied the state with a list of the hazardous wastes it generates - such as solvents, old batteries and decontaminated weapons residues - and was given permission to operate as a "small waste generator."
However, after an inspection in 1986, she said the state claimed Dugway was a large waste generator and was out of compliance. She said the Army and the state have met about once a month since to negotiate a settlement. "We are currently operating without a permit, and we must come in compliance. We feel we have given the state all the documents it wants."
If the proposed settlement is signed, the Army would agree to identify within 10 days all open burning and detonation areas, canister storage areas and other hazardous waste facilities.
Once that list is received, the state would authorize operation of those facilities on an interim basis subject to all hazardous waste requirements.
Within a year, Dugway would submit a formal application to operate its hazardous waste facilities, would certify that it is in compliance with groundwater monitoring rules and would provide a schedule for final identification and corrective action at all its solid waste areas.
Dugway would also agree to submit within three months an analysis of the soil that it excavated from its Carr facility. Dugway would also agree to pay all required application costs.
The state would agree to refrain from enforcement proceedings as long as Dugway is in compliance.