EPA Removes Unregulated Chemicals from Demolished Wabbaseka School

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in cooperation with the City of Wabbaseka, Arkansas Department of Emergency Management (ADEM), Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently removed about 300 abandoned chemical containers from a demolished school in Wabbaseka, Arkansas. The chemicals removed included flammables, oxidizers, corrosive acids, corrosive bases, toxics, and non-regulated materials. 
“People living around the demolished school can rest assured that their health and safety will not be compromised from potentially dangerous materials,” said Al Armendariz, EPA Regional Administrator. “Thanks to the collaborative effort of the EPA, ADEQ, FDA, ADEM, and the City of Wabbaseka, a potentially dangerous situation has been defused.”

The site is the former Wabbaseka High School Science Laboratory chemical storage room. The school was abandoned in 1996 and demolished in January 2011.  During the demolition, authorities discovered the chemical storage room contained various laboratory chemicals.  However, demolition contractors completed demolition of the school building with the exception of the chemical storage room.

“I want to commend and personally thank the EPA and the other agencies involved in the chemical removal,” said Mayor Myra Edwards.  “The removal of the chemical from the old Wabbaseka School eased tension and fear throughout the community. We are looking forward to rebuilding that area and providing additional avenues for economic endeavors.”

EPA is committed to providing information addressing environmental issues affecting schools, including regulatory requirements, best practices and recommendations. To aid schools in identifying potential areas of concern at their facilities, EPA provided Hazardous Chemical Categorization training and School Chemical Lab Awareness training to area Fire Department staff and volunteers.  

Under the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act, EPA conducted the removal response as it posed an immediate threat to human health and the environment. The EPA estimates the cost of the chemical removal and disposal to be $45,000.

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