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EPA, Iowa DNR and National Guard Team to Retrieve Orphan Drums and Tanks Across Iowa


EPA Region 7, the Iowa DNR and National Guard 71st Civil Support Team have teamed up to identify and retrieve orphan drums and tanks and household hazardous wastes that were swept away by flood waters, said Kathy Lee of the Iowa DNR.

The 71st Civil Support Team (CST) is a specialized group of Iowa Army and Air National Guard members that have considerable training in hazardous materials procedures and have been temporarily assigned to assist the DNR and EPA. The 71st CST’s primary mission is to evaluate and respond to potential or actual events involving weapons of mass destruction.

Orphan drums and tanks are potentially hazardous and include empty or full propane tanks, underground tanks containing fuel or solvents, drums holding chemicals and anhydrous ammonia nurse tanks.

During the retrieval, the drums and tanks will be collected and transferred to a temporary storage location for further evaluation before being sent to a landfill, scrap yard or hazardous waste facility for final disposal.

“Joining up with the DNR and the National Guard has been very productive,” said Joe Davis, EPA On-Scene Coordinator. “DNR conservation officers have been piloting boats in impacted areas.” Davis said this strategy not only assures a safe mission, but frees up more EPA and National Guard resources for identification and evaluation.

The 71st Civil Support Team has also provided mapping and staff for operational support at the environmental operations center at the 71st CST offices at the Des Moines Airport. “We are happy to help out in any way we can,” said Lieutenant Colonel Tim Glynn. “We have had extensive contact with hazmat teams and local officials in our capacity as a WMD team and it is great that we are able to use our skills and training in this effort. The 71st Civil Support Team will be assisting in this mission through July 5.”

Officials from EPA, DNR and the 71st CST are also working together to assist Iowa residents with disposal of household hazardous waste, large appliances and electronic goods derived from area floods. EPA and Iowa DNR encourage residents to separate household hazardous waste from other flood debris. This will help minimize or prevent long-term environmental damage.

Three EPA on-scene coordinators have been dispatched to eastern Iowa to assist local officials with household hazardous waste collection. In addition, EPA has mobilized approximately 40 contractors to assist with the effort.

“This takes the burden off local officials and allows them to focus on other issues associated with flooding,” said John Frey, EPA On-Scene Coordinator. EPA currently has operations in the following locations:

Bremer County - Waverly and the Bremer County Landfill
Butler County - Allison, Clarksville, Greene, New Hartford
Johnson County - Iowa City
Linn County - Cedar Rapids
Homeowners should contact their local officials for information on the collection and drop-off sites for household hazardous waste.

“We definitely appreciate all this extra help,” said Joe Sanfilippo, Supervisor of the DNR Field Office in Manchester. “I have all my staff deployed to flooded areas each day, and being able to team up with staff from EPA helps extend our outreach.”

The joint operations will assist residents with disposal of the following categories of household hazardous waste, large appliances and electronic goods:

Household hazardous waste:

Paints and flammables
Gasoline, oil and antifreeze
Batteries and acids
Cleaning supplies
Other household chemicals
Lawn and garden products
Indoor pesticides
Automotive products

Large appliances:

Air conditioners
Refrigerators (contents removed)
Freezers (contents removed)
Stoves and ovens
Washers and dryers
Water heaters


Video recorders

Anyone finding or sighting an orphan tank or drum should be aware that it can be potentially dangerous, and should call the Iowa DNR hotline at (515) 281-8694 for proper disposal.


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