Browsing University of Alaska Anchorage by Subject "Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC)"
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Alaska Justice Forum ; Vol. 35, No. 1 (Summer 2018)The Summer 2018 print edition of the Alaska Justice Forum focuses on environmental justice, exploring the ongoing challenges of cleaning up contaminated sites in Alaska in terms of the costs of cleanup and long-term impacts upon people and the environment. Alaska is ranked third in the U.S. for Formerly Used Defense Sites (FUDS) properties. Most of these properties are in remote locations, placing a disproportionate impact on Alaska Native communities that depend upon environmental resources for their livelihood. This issue also looks at expanded eligibility and increased limits on Brownfields Program funds, which provide monies for assessment and cleanup of contaminants on property targeted for redevelopment. The Summer 2018 online edition includes all print stories, one of which has been expanded.
Environmental Justice: Challenges of Contaminated Site Cleanup in Rural AKEfforts to clean up contaminated sites from military installations and other sources have been ongoing in Alaska since the 1980s, and new sites continue to be identified. Most Formerly Used Defense Sites (FUDS) properties are in remote locations, placing a disproportionate impact on Alaska Native communities that depend upon environmental resources for their livelihood. Cleanup projects that are begun may take many years to complete due to the complicated nature of each site. Since 1990, over 5,300 sites have been cleanup up; more than 2,200 sites remain open, including military installations (both abandoned and active), bulk fuel storage and gas stations, airports and airfields, maintenance facilities, and oil exploration, transport, and refining facilities.
Expanded Brownfields Program Supports Redevelopment in AlaskaThe Environmental Protection Agency’s Brownfields Program support the redevelopment of property which may have contaminants from prior use. Anchorage, Mat-Su Borough, and Kodiak Island Borough are current recipients of Brownfields funds. This year Congress increased grant limits under the Brownfields Program and expanded eligibility requirements. Alaska Native villages and corporations that received a contaminated facility from the U.S. government under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) are now eligible for Brownfields grants.
Long-Term Impacts of Environmental Contaminants Are ‘Generational Game Changer’Most Formerly Used Defense Sites (FUDS) properties are in remote locations, placing a disproportionate impact on Alaska Native communities that depend upon environmental resources for their livelihood. After the 1972 closure of a U.S. Air Force base that had operated for 20 years on St. Lawrence Island, residents of the Yup'ik village of Savoonga began to experience a higher incidence of cancer, lower birth-weight babies, and higher numbers of miscarriages. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers eventually spent $125 million cleaning up the abandoned base. But there are concerns about continued impact from environmental contamination. While state and federal health studies recommend continued reliance upon traditional foods based on locally harvested berries, fish, and wildlife, St. Lawrence Island community members fear those foods may be contributing to elevated levels of PCBs and higher cancer rates.