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Waste and Underground Tank Management Bureau

Malmstrom Air Force Base (AFB)
Great Falls, Montana


Malmstrom AFB Location Map Location Map
Installation of a groundwater in-situ treatment system at a closed landfill at the Malmstrom AFB
Installation of a groundwater in-situ treatment system at a closed landfill at the Malmstrom AFB



The Malmstrom Air Force Base is located on the eastern city limits of Great Falls, Montana.  The base was established in 1942 and encompasses 3,500 acres.  The Missouri River is approximately one mile north of the base.

The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) is the federal law which requires proper management and disposal of hazardous waste.  Hazardous waste permits are required for on-site units that are used to treat, store or dispose of hazardous waste.  Hazardous waste permits must also include provisions requiring facility-wide investigation and remediation of releases of hazardous waste or hazardous constituents.  The Montana Hazardous Waste Act (MHWA) is the State equivalent of RCRA.

The State of Montana issued a hazardous waste permit to Malmstrom in 1989 to allow storage of hazardous waste in an on-site storage building.  In addition, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued Malmstrom a permit under the Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments to RCRA.  The EPA permit required that Malmstrom conduct remedial investigation and cleanup of contaminated areas throughout the facility.  Hazardous waste permits (both state and federal) are issued for a ten-year period and may be renewed at the end of that period.  Montana DEQ reissued the Malmstrom hazardous waste permit 2001.  The new permit contains requirements for both operation of the on-site storage building and for facility-wide corrective action. 



Facility-Wide Corrective Action

The Malmstrom hazardous waste permit requires investigation and remediation of releases of hazardous waste or hazardous constituents from areas where waste was currently or historically managed (Solid Waste Management Units or SWMUs) and areas where contamination occurred or potentially occurred (Areas of Concern or AOCs).  The United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) outlined an approach to facility-wide corrective action which consists of four phases:

RCRA Facility Assessment (RFA)
RCRA Facility Investigation (RFI)
Corrective Measures Study (CMS)
Corrective Measures Implementation (CMI)

Malmstrom identified twenty-six SWMUs and AOCs which required some degree of investigation and remediation.  Twenty-five of the areas have been remediated or were referred to Montana DEQ’s Petroleum Site Response Program for further action.  Contamination included petroleum contaminated-soils from underground petroleum storage tanks and piping, lead-contaminated soils from artillery ranges, and groundwater beneath a closed base landfill which has been contaminated with chlorinated volatile organic compounds (CVOCs).  Corrective measures for the contaminated SWMUs and AOCs includes excavation and treatment of contaminated soils, excavation and stabilization of lead-contaminated soils which were then shipped off-site, and in-situ treatment of groundwater at the landfill site.  Malmstrom has completed all phases of investigation and corrective measures implementation of remedies at the base.  Remediation of groundwater at the landfill will be on-going until hazardous constituent levels in the groundwater meet Montana water quality standards.

Permitted On-Site Hazardous Waste Storage Building

The on-site storage building is a 2,400-square foot building used for storing hazardous material, hazardous waste and universal wastes (mercury-containing light bulbs, batteries, etc. slated for recycling) prior to shipment off-site for disposal.  The storage building is part of the Defense Reutilization and Marketing Office (DRMO) at Malmstrom.  The DRMO manages excess government property, including management and proper disposal of hazardous waste and universal waste.  Typical hazardous and universal wastes placed in the permitted storage building include acids, bases, solvents, paint stripper and thinner, and pesticides.  In addition to wastes generated on the base, Malmstrom is permitted to receive and store off-site hazardous wastes from other military entities around Montana.  These entities include military Reserve Units, the Montana National Guard, and off-site US Air Force facilities under the control of Malmstrom AFB.  The Montana hazardous waste permit allows Malmstrom to store hazardous waste on-site for greater than 90 days and includes requirements for:

• proper storage and maintenance of containers,
• routine inspections,
• spill prevention and spill response actions in case of emergency,
• hazardous waste management training for Malmstrom personnel,
• security devices and safety / emergency response equipment, and
• proper closure of the storage building when operation is discontinued.



DEQ Contact: 
Becky Holmes, Environmental Science Specialist
Montana Department of Environmental Quality
P.O. Box 200901
Helena, Montana 59620-0901