May 26, 2011

Federal, State Officials Remove Chemicals From Arkansas School

Toxic and non-regulated materials found at former high school science laboratory

Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Emergency Management, Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality, and Food and Drug Administration officials recently removed about 300 abandoned chemical containers from a demolished school in Wabbaseka, Ark. The chemicals removed included flammables, oxidizers, corrosive acids, corrosive bases, toxics and non-regulated materials.

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.

EPA officials are 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 workers 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 officials conducted the removal response as it posed an immediate threat to human health and the environment. Estimated costs of the chemical removal and disposal are $45,000.