|From:||Aimee Houghton <firstname.lastname@example.org>|
|Date:||4 Apr 2001 16:06:10 -0000|
|Subject:||[CPEO-MEF] Rep. Blumenhauer asks Congress to report for duty in the cleanup of|
BLUMENAUER STATEMENT ON SPRING VALLEY TOUR OF UNEXPLODED ORDNANCE
“Congress must report for duty. We should pinpoint managerial responsibility and provide the necessary administrative and financial tools to clean this mess up,”
Rep. Earl Blumenauer
WASHINGTON, DC --- Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) today issued the following statement following a tour of the Army Corps of Engineers’ clean-up efforts of unexploded ordnance and arsenic contamination in Spring Valley, in Northwest Washington, D.C. Joined in his tour by Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Blumenauer was briefed by representatives from the Army Corps of Engineers on their efforts to clean up efforts of the American University Experiment Station, a former World War I chemical weapons research facility.
Nationally, there are over 1,000 Formerly Used Defense Sites [FUDS] known or suspected to contain unexploded ordnance [UXO]. In addition, UXO is known to exist at over 200 Base Realignment and Closure [BRAC] sites.
Estimates for UXO clean-up of the approximately 25 million contaminated acres in the U.S. could exceed $200 billion. The Department of Defense is currently allocating approximately $150 million per year on clean-up efforts of unexploded ordnance at FUDS and BRAC sites.
The tour included a briefing at the Army Corps of Engineers’ Operations Center, the American University Child Development Center and excavation sites in the area. Representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency Region III, the Center for Public Environmental Oversight, the D.C. Department of Health also attended the briefing.
“It is estimated that toxic explosive waste of our military activities in the United States
unexploded ordnance--on formerly-used defense installations contaminates at least 25 million acres in the United States. The number could be as high as 50 million acres. Sadly, no one can even give an accurate appraisal of the problem. What we do know is that at the current rate of spending, it will take more than 1,000 years to return this land to safe and productive use.
“These weapons of war, this unexploded ordnance, is a serious problem left as a legacy of the 20th Century. Human activity and wildlife is encroaching on more and more of these sites as our neighborhoods grow and sprawl. At the same time, the natural rhythms of nature -- flooding, earthquakes, landslides -- aided and abetted by human activity, exposes these dangers. Today, across America, we are finding unexploded ordnance that was intentionally buried in a feeble attempt to dispose of it. Other shells just missed the mark and didn't explode as intended.
“There are many targets toward which citizens can direct their frustration and, in some cases, anger: the Department of Defense, the Army Corps of Engineers, Environmental Protection Agency. People have legitimate concerns about what these and other agencies have done in the past and what they’re doing now. But there is one participant that is missing in action: the United States Congress. Only Congress can set adequate funding levels, budget clearly, and then make sure enough money is appropriated to do the job right.
“It is not acceptable to me for Congress to occasionally step in from the sidelines, complain, protest, and shift inadequate funding from one high priority to another. This is worse than a zero-sum game and does not advance the goal of protecting anyone. Congress must report for duty. We should pinpoint managerial responsibility and provide the necessary administrative and financial tools to clean this mess up. What I'm talking about will not affect active ranges and readiness. That is a separate topic with its own set of issues. My concern is the closed, transferred, and transferring ranges where the public is exposed or soon will be.
“More than 1, 000 years to clean up these sites is not an appropriate timetable when people are at risk every day. We should provide resources to solve this problem in the lifetimes of our children. If we did this, the momentum, the energy, the improvement in technology, and the development of appropriate partnerships would make a quantum improvement in our ability to find unexploded ordnance and to decontaminate sites. If we aimed at 75 years, rather than one thousand, I believe it would create such a burst of enthusiasm and energy that we could probably get the job done in 25 years or less. By advancing our clean-up efforts we could develop the cutting edge technology to help not just Americans, but people around the world who are struggling with unexploded weapons of war.
“One of my goals in Congress it to make sure that every Member understands how unexploded ordnance affects the safety and health of their constituents. Congress should utilize its mandate and make sure that there is a clear command structure charged with cleaning up every single site in the United States. Our goal is to make sure there is enough funding so that we can at least get the clean-up done in this century and that no child will be at risk for death, dismemberment or serious illness as a result of the United States government not cleaning up after itself.”
Aimee R. Houghton
Associate Director, CPEO
122 C Street NW, Suite 700
Washington, DC 20001-2109
tel: 202-662-1888; fax: 202-628-1825
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