All public land at the former Fort Wingate Depot Activity is on its way to being turned over to the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) after appropriate environmental cleanup. The lands will be held by the BIA for the benefit of the Navajo Nation and Pueblo of Zuni indefinitely.
Cleanup refers to the actions the Army is taking to lessen a release or threat of release of a hazardous substance that could affect humans or the environment. This term is used interchangeably with other terms like remediation, remedial action, removal action, or corrective action.
Cleanup actions are done under a RCRA Permit. This permit defines how the Army will handle and schedule the treatment, storage, and disposal of hazardous waste. It was issued by the State of New Mexico’s Department of Environment in December 2005.
The Army has already taken some actions to reduce health and environmental threats posed by the hazardous waste in the Fort Wingate structures, soil, and water. One hazardous waste is called UXO, which stands for unexploded ordnance. UXOs are military munitions that are prepared for action but remain unexploded. They are unexploded because of malfunction or design problems or because they are mislaid. UXOs pose a hazard. Finding, disarming, and removing UXOs are critical steps for FWDA’s cleanup duties.
Fort Wingate will be officially under “closure” when FWDA meets federal environmental requirements. Working toward that goal, the Army is conducting environmental sampling, evaluation, and cleanup.
For more information on the laws and regulations behind the cleanup, use these links:
Areas where wastes were actively being treated or stored when the cleanup began fall under EPA’s Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). The Office of Solid Waste regulates all hazardous waste under RCRA. To learn more about this Act, click here: https://www.epa.gov/rcra/
Some areas of potential contamination at FWDA fall under legislation called Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA or Superfund). CERCLA follows a defined process for cleaning up hazardous waste sites. For information about the process, click here: https://www.epa.gov/superfund/superfund-cleanup-process/