Waste Erosion Assessment and Review (WEAR) Project
An Inventory Project
Coastal and river erosion has the potential to cause hazardous substances and garbage from Alaska’s eroding landfills, closed dump sites, and contaminated sites to be released into the ocean and the state’s rivers, jeopardizing Alaska’s waters, fish and wildlife.
The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation has begun a four-year $1.4 million project to inventory and prioritize those sites, and generate action plans to mitigate the impacts of erosion. The inventory, ranking and action plans will help state and federal agencies, as well as rural communities seeking funding, to control eroding areas or relocate landfills that are in danger of eroding.
The Waste Erosion Assessment and Review (WEAR) project is part of the federal Coastal Impact Assistance Program, which distributes $960 million to six states to mitigate the impacts of oil and gas activities. The money is dispersed through federal legislation to the six states, including Alaska, that are on the outer continental shelf and produce oil and gas.
The Project Area and How It Will Work
The project area covers Alaska’s northern and western coasts, the Aleutians and river communities up to 300 miles upriver from the coast.
The inventory will build on information gathered in U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ 2009 Alaska Baseline Erosion Assessment and the Indian Health Service’s 1998 Report on the Status of Open Dumps on Indian Lands, which was updated in 2011.
The project started with a list of 150 communities in the project area. DEC staff members in the agency’s Solid Waste and Contaminated Sites programs have evaluated the list based on existing information, including the results of the two studies and aerial photographs.
See our WEAR Villages web page to see the current list of 129 villages that are being further evaluated.
Prioritizing the sites based on erosion risk and risk to humans and the environment, the staff members will narrow the 150 down to a smaller list, and visit those communities during the 2012 to 2014 period to gather more information about each site. They will also do a detailed evaluation of the design and operations of the landfill in each community they visit.
Input from communities will be important throughout the project, to help identify sites that are eroding.
Types of Sites
Those sites include dumpsites, areas where fuel was stored, such as tank farms, where worn-out vehicles and heavy equipment were dumped, and sites where historical military or mining activity occurred near a community. All these sites may be sources of hazardous chemicals, such as PCBs, chlorinated solvents, heavy metals, pesticides and petroleum products.
The Final Report
DEC plans to release its final report for the erosion inventory in 2015. It will include site-specific recommendations for communities visited in the final inventory, from ideas for improving the management or design of their landfills, to erosion control measures, cleaning up a contaminated site, or relocating a landfill.
For More Information Contact
DEC Solid Waste Program
555 Cordova St.
Anchorage, AK 99501
For a printable copy of this page, download our WEAR fact sheet
This web page is funded in part with qualified outer continental shelf oil and gas revenues by the Coastal Impact Assistance Program within the Department of the Interior’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.