Last week, the federal Environmental Protection Agency ordered the Army to move more quickly in conducting testing to determine whether residents in Forest Park, Georgia are at risk for hazardous chemical exposure. The Army has apparently already missed a deadline which gave officials 21 days to mitigate potential exposure to residents, and the recent communication from the EPA is the third ordering the Army to act quickly.
The chemicals, according to sources, are coming from Fort Gillem, a former Army base where chemicals were routinely dumped on the ground. Workers reportedly dumped motor oil and other industrial solvents into the soil, which led to groundwater contamination which has spread out from base.
The EPA had, at one point, considered making the former base a Superfund site, which would have made federal funds available for toxic waste cleanup and disposal. That effort was tabled, though, when cleanup efforts were put in motion. The cleanup effort has since slowed down.
Residents near the former base are warned not to drink well water, and over the summer homes began to be tested for air contaminants from contaminated groundwater. Out of the 56 homes and businesses tested so far, at least nine of the 17 homes which have had their data evaluated have air contamination which requires immediate action. Six others need to continue to be monitored, while two others need additional testing.
Sources did not indicate whether there would be any litigation in connection with the contamination, but it is possible that there could be. Those who are harmed by toxic exposure have a right to be compensated by at-fault parties, and it is important to work with an experienced attorney when pursuing such cases. Doing so ensures one’s rights and interests will receive the attention and advocacy they deserve.
Source: The Augusta Chronicle, “EPA: Army must move faster an old base contamination testing,” Shannon McCaffrey, September 28, 2014.