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EPA, Navy still at odds over Jackson Park cleanup

The Environmental Protection Agency recently fined the U.S. Navy $45,000 for its cleanup operations at the Jackson Park Housing Complex, which is listed as a Superfund site.

This is the second time the U.S. Navy has been fined for the Jackson Park site, following a $40,000 fine in 2005.

Navy officials could not be reached for comment.

Before the site became a housing complex in the 1970s, the former Naval Ammunition Depot Puget Sound operated in the area from 1904 to 1959.

The site was placed on the Superfund list in 1994, after the EPA first found evidence of mass contamination from the munitions.

About 75,000 munitions lie in the 232-acre property. Most of these munitions are in the subsurface area, both in the housing complex area and along the shoreline.

Harry Craig, project manager for the EPA, said the Navy has done the preliminary work, but just needed to follow through on the rest of the project.

“They had done a full investigation and have the data for the clean-up,” he said.

The Navy has proposed an extensive educational program regarding the munitions, but as Craig sees it, the Navy needs to look at more options for munition removal.

“The public can have a general idea,” he said. “But they won’t be experts on munitions, especially when they are dating back to World War II.”

Craig said the EPA’s action was a preventive measure, and not a response to any previous incidents.

No person has ever been seriously injured by the munitions at Jackson Park.

“Most of them are severely eroded enough that they’re not a threat,” he said. “But there’s still a chance they could explode. There are some historical examples at other sites with kids and explosives.”

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