Fort Wainwright

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Fort Wainwright
Adjacent to Fairbanks, Alaska
25th Infantry Division SSI.svg
U.S. 25th Infantry Division Shoulder Insignia
Type Army post
Site information
Controlled by U.S. Army
Site history
Built 1941 (as Ladd Field)
In use 1941-Present
Garrison information
Garrison 25th Infantry Division

Fort Wainwright is a United States Army post adjacent to Fairbanks in the U.S. state of Alaska. It is part of the Fairbanks, Alaska Metropolitan Statistical Area.

History[edit]

It was first established in 1939 as U.S. Army Air Corps as Ladd Field and transferred to the newly established U.S. Air Force in 1947 and renamed Ladd AFB, a cold weather station to test aircraft under arctic conditions. In 1961 it was transferred to the Army and redesignated Fort Wainwright in honor of World War II general Jonathan M. Wainwright. From 1963 to 1972 it was home to the 171st Infantry Brigade, mechanized until 1969, then light. During that time, the 172nd Infantry Brigade was at Fort Richardson, in Anchorage. From 1986 to 1998 Fort Wainwright was the home of the 6th Infantry Division (Light), including serving as the division's headquarters from 1990 to 1994 . From 1998 to 2006, it was home to the 172nd Infantry Brigade, which was reorganized in 2003 as the 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team (SBCT), part of the U.S. Army's transition program to include six SBCTs. In 2006, the 172nd was re-flagged as the 1st brigade of the 25th Infantry Division. Fort Wainwright is also the home of Task Force 49, an aviation brigade that provides logistical air support for U.S. Army Alaska. It also hosts the Bureau of Land Management's Alaska Fire Service. It is home to Bassett Army Community Hospital.

Eva McGown was a member of the Officer's Women's Club at the fort.

Superfund[edit]

National Priorities Listing[edit]

Fort Wainwright has been registered on the national Superfund list since August 1990. Known contaminants on the site include mercury, tetrahydrofuran, chromium, lead, waste oil, waste fuel, solvents, paint residues and fuel tank sludge.[1] Approximately 15,000 people live and work at the fort and obtain drinking water from wells in close proximity to contaminated source areas. The Chena River also runs through the contaminated area of Fort Wainwright.[2]

Taku Gardens[edit]

To meet the needs of new personnel and their families construction of 128 homes on a 54-acre housing project known as Taku Gardens began in 2005.[3] In June, 2005 construction workers noticed "stained soil and unusual odors during excavation of a building foundation" and laboratory testing revealed the presence of PCB at concentrations of up to 115,000 mg/kg - Alaska's current clean-up standard is 1 mg/kg.[3] Further testing of the site revealed the presence of volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds, chlorinated compounds including solvents, herbicides, pesticides, dioxins, and "munitions-related compounds" such as nitroaromatics and propellants.[3] A January, 2007 Army audit questioned "the wisdom of building a family housing complex on top of a known 1950s-era military landfill" and concluded that "the situation with the Taku construction project is the direct result of multiple individuals failing to adhere to Army and federal regulations and guidance."[4][5] The housing site is now fenced off and access is restricted to qualified personnel.[3] Some homes constructed in 2005 were demolished, but several remain.

Construction of the housing project resumed during the summer of 2011. In the intervening years, many housing units between Taku Gardens and the main gate were reconstructed or renovated, with new housing built as well. Immediately northeast of Taku Gardens, Bear Paw was built on a part of the former site of Bassett Army Hospital, while construction of new homes began on the rest of the site in 2011. Immediately northeast of Bear Paw, Denali Village, a much larger development, was constructed between Glass Park and the former billeting.

Hangar 6[edit]

In June, 2006 civilian construction workers at Aircraft Maintenance Hangar No. 6 - known by the Corps of Engineers to be a designated Hazardous Waste Accumulation point - were overcome by fumes described as "pungent, chalky and metallic tasting" and suffered nausea, headaches and other symptoms. A state health report concluded that "an unknown, volatile chemical likely caused nerve damage to the disabled workers." More than 30 workers were hospitalized and at least 4 have suffered lasting disabilities. The workers initiated a civil suit against the Army which was dismissed because the workers were limited to state workers’ compensation as their only relief. PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch said "Two years after a designated hazardous waste site burned, the Army sent workers to dig up the site with no warning or protective equipment. What will stop the Army from sending workers to dig up this same site in five or ten years with similar results?"[6][7]

Barrels of various toxic substances have been found near the Chena River Railroad Bridge off of Trainer Gate Rd.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "NPL Site Narrative for Fort Wainwright". United States Environmental Protection Agency. August 30, 1990. Retrieved 2011-03-05. 
  2. ^ "Fort Wainwright, Alaska: Site Description". United States Environmental Protection Agency. February 2007. Retrieved 2011-03-05. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Fort Wainwright, Taku Gardens (102 Communications Site)". State of Alaska Department for Environmental Conservation. June 2009. Retrieved 2011-03-05. 
  4. ^ "Army knew Alaska base family housing site was toxic". PEER. July 7, 2008. Retrieved 2011-03-05. 
  5. ^ "Taku Housing Construction Project Audit". Office of the Staff Judge Advocate, US Army Alaska. January 2007. Retrieved 2011-03-05.  Hosted by PEER.
  6. ^ "Chemical caused nerve damage to military base workers". PEER. January 20, 2011. Retrieved 2011-03-05. 
  7. ^ Burke, Jill (January 20, 2011). "Unearthed toxin at Fort Wainwright likely injured workers". Alaska Dispatch. Retrieved 2011-03-05. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 64°49′40″N 147°38′34″W / 64.8277871°N 147.6429151°W / 64.8277871; -147.6429151