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Army corps makes plans to clean contaminated soil at WWII sites in Unalaska Valley

The sites in the Unalaska valley were underground facilities used for storing fuel tanks, which contaminated the soil with petroleum.

Representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said they plan to remediate a half-dozen contaminated World War II sites in the Unalaska Valley this fall.

They have been making slow but steady progress to remediate formerly used defense sites — or FUDS — across the island for decades.

The sites being cleaned up in the coming months were underground facilities used for storing fuel tanks, which contaminated the soil with petroleum.

Rena Flint, who is managing the project, said the corps is in the process of coordinating rites of entry with landowners for six underground storage tank sites of former World War II buildings. The sites range from residences to vacant land owned by the city or the Ounalashka Corp.

The corps also has to make sure the cleanup wouldn’t cause more environmental damage than the contaminated land itself. That includes determining whether removing the contaminated soil could threaten wildlife.

“Is it a finding of no significant effects, like move forward with the project, we're doing a good thing by cleaning up these small petroleum contaminated sites?” Flint said. “Or whoa, whoa, whoa, the actual undertaking affects the environment more adversely.”

The corps’ environmental review found no significant threats to the valley, but that report is available to the public for review and comment.

The public comment period wraps up June 11.

Theo Greenly reports from the Aleutians as a Report for America corps member. He got his start in public radio at KCRW in Santa Monica, California, and has produced radio stories and podcasts for stations around the country.
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