Firefighters remove toxic chemicals found near Grafenwoehr Training Area
By MARTIN EGNASH AND MARCUS KLOECKNER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: September 7, 2017
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany — German authorities say they have safely disposed of toxic chemicals that were found last week in Lake Penzenreuth and that are believed to have belonged to the U.S. Army.
A German hunter discovered five barrels containing the substance in Lake Penzenreuth, less than 14 miles from the Grafenwoehr Training Area. They were labeled in English as “decontaminating agents,” local media reports said.
The substance inside the barrels is a type of bleach used in the United States in the 1980s to decontaminate certain types of equipment, the reports said. That fact, together with the state of the corroded barrels, led police to conclude that they were abandoned years and maybe even decades ago.
Firefighters secured the barrels and transported them to the U.S. Army’s hazardous waste disposal contractor.
Reinhard Schmidt, a German spokesman with Neustadt an der Waldnaab county told Stars and Stripes that a specialist on the scene ensured that no chemicals spilled from the barrels.
Torsten Goss, Kirchthumbach’s fire chief, said nearly 100 personnel, including Army firefighters, worked to safely remove the material.
“The response demonstrates the strong partnership that exists between the U.S. Army and host nation first-responders,” said Nathan Van Shaik, U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria spokesman. “We share the environment with the community and are committed to ensuring we take the necessary precautions to prevent adverse effects on the environment and the habitat.”
The incident is under investigation.