|From:||Lenny Siegel <firstname.lastname@example.org>|
|Date:||26 Jul 2006 15:41:46 -0000|
|Subject:||[CPEO-IRF] DOD won't support EPA oversight at BRAC 2005 bases|
On July 25, 2006, Defense Environmental Alert reported, "In a break with
past years' policy, the Defense Department will not provide funds for
EPA staff to oversee cleanups at the 2005 round of base closures and
realignments." The publication also reported that the Defense Department
would no longer form BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure) Cleanup Teams
(BCTs) in partnership with regulatory agencies. I consider these to be
two major steps backward, likely to lead to less adequate cleanup and
creating potential obstacles for property transfer.|
If upheld, these new policies will undermine base cleanup, transfer, and reuse. It will be mitigated only by the fact that only a relatively small number of bases are slated for transfer as part of the 2005 BRAC round.
EPA personnel have been essential in maintaining an adequate level of cleanup at BRAC bases from earlier rounds, even in states with strong regulatory programs. BCTs have not only been effective, overall, but they serve as a model for collaborative problem-solving at other cleanup sites.
It will be difficult to get Congress to provide the funds directly to EPA, in part because the EPA appropriation pie is so small, and in part because it will get mired in the debate over Superfund funding.
Other polluters pay for regulatory oversight, and DOD should do the same.
I suspect that DOD is following this path because at a number of facilities EPA officials have pushed successfully for more complete investigations and cleanup. Conceivably, reducing oversight will accelerate "cleanup" by requiring less remediation in the short run. In the medium run, however, it could slow approval for the transfer of property to non-federal entities. And in the long run it will create enormous problems, as the bases' new occupants come into contact with contamination that has not been adequately addressed.
Defense Environmental Alert cited a Defense Department spokeswoman who argued that cleanup programs at closing bases are more mature than they were in the 1990s. This is true, but changes in use, or simply investigations designed to support transfer, are likely to uncover new environmental liabilities unknown or underappreciated while those same bases were on active duty.
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