Waste Erosion Assessment and Review (WEAR) Project

Alukanuk Landfill ErosionAn Inventory Project

Coastal and river erosion has the potential to cause hazardous substances and garbage from Alaska’s landfills, contaminated sites, tank farms, and other sites of environmental concern to be released into the ocean and the state’s rivers, jeopardizing Alaska’s waters, fish and wildlife.

The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation is conducting a four-year $1.4 million project to inventory and rank those sites, and generate action plans with guidance on how to cleanup a site and list options for erosion mitigation. This project will help state and federal agencies, as well as rural communities, allocate funding to cleanup sites and control eroding areas.

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 was 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

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 is building 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.

There are 144 communities in the project area. DEC staff members in the Solid Waste and Contaminated Sites Programs evaluated the list based on existing information, to determine where to focus our site visits.

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Community Visits 2012 - 2014Eroding Akiak Fuel Tanks

Staff conducted site visits in 124 out of the 144 communities to gather more information about sites within each community. They also performed a detailed evaluation of the design and operations of the landfill in each community they visited.

Community Input

Input from locals was important during the site visits to help identify sites that were of environmental concern or were eroding. They provided a history for the community that was extremely helpful.

Types of Sites

Sites inspected included landfills (dumpsites), contaminated sites, tank farms, boneyards of worn-out vehicles and heavy equipment, 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.

Preliminary Reports

Waste oil storage leakingWe have created a preliminary report for each community visited, which provides a brief narrative of that community's sites and photos of each site. You can view these reports on the Preliminary Reports page.

Final Report

DEC plans to release its Final Report in May 2015, which will include site-specific recommendations for the sites of highest concern. It will include ideas such as improving the management or design of their landfills, erosion mitigation options, cleaning up a contaminated site, or relocating a site, if needed.

For More Information Contact
Rebecca Colvin
DEC Solid Waste Program
555 Cordova St.
Anchorage, AK  99501

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.