2002 CPEO Military List Archive

From: Lenny Siegel <lsiegel@cpeo.org>
Date: 18 Nov 2002 18:41:54 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Regulatory Framework Profile
CPEO just completed a review of its past three years of work with public
stakeholders at federal facilities. We found, at most facilities, that
the public's ability to influence cleanup decisions is hampered by the
absence of a common understanding of the laws, regulations and other
policies that govern cleanup decisions. In turn, the trust necessary to
conduct a responsive cleanup program is undermine. Sometimes community
members are confused or uninformed because existing policies are not
explained; but more often, it is because general briefings on the
cleanup process do not tie local issues and concerns to these policies.
Furthermore, in many situations, government agencies themselves do not
agree on their respective authorities. 

For example, at the Vieques (PR) Naval Ammunition Support Detachment as
recently as Spring, 2001, the community thought that U.S. EPA exercised
regulatory oversight authority, because it showed up at meetings.
However, the Puerto Rican Environmental Quality Board (EQB) was the
regulator of record, but at the time it was not playing an active role.
Once members of the local community understood the problem, they urged
the EQB to exercise its authority. On the other hand, most of the east
side of Vieques is covered by a U.S. EPA-issued Corrective Action order
under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. To raise issues about
investigations and community relations issues there, the community needs
to go to EPA.

At the Jefferson Proving Ground (IN), the Nuclear Regulatory Commission
is the primary regulator of depleted uranium weapons and residue lying
on the range. That doesn't seem to be a problem, as long as the one is
focused on the radiological hazards of uranium. But the community wants
to know who is in a position to determine whether it's necessary to
address the toxic heavy metal characteristics of uranium.

There are a number of sites across the country where sites that appear
to qualify for the National Priorities List (NPL, or Superfund) have not
been listed. The Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant (KS) was proposed for
the NPL, but never accepted. The community at Bellows Air Force Base
(HI) has been told that the facility was scored for NPL inclusion, but
it was never even formally proposed. Contamination at former Marion
Engineering Depot (OH) appears to have caused extensive health problems
to students who attended school there, but it remains off the NPL, with
the state serving as lead regulator. Stakeholders don't understand why
Superfund caliber facilities are not getting Superfund-level attention
from EPA.

At Moffett Field (CA) ? my home base ? the Navy is investigating
contamination of a military housing area, adjacent to the airfield, now
operated by the Army. It's not clear yet if the contamination came from
Navy operations at the former Naval Air Station, NASA activities at the
contiguous Ames Research Center, migration from nearby electronics
industry NPL sites, or an unknown party. At our Restoration Advisory
Board meetings, members of the public asked which regulatory authorities
applied. We finally learned that U.S. EPA considers the housing area to
be part of the Moffett Naval Air Station NPL site, but that the Navy
doesn't agree. So we keep offering input to all of the parties.

Finally, in the absence of an agreed regulatory authority to address
unexploded ordnance, munitions constituents, and discarded military
munitions, ordnance sites across the country are being regulated (or
not) under a mix of authorities, with the Defense Department still
reluctant to see it governed as a hazardous waste or substance.

As a result, stakeholders often don't know where to ask questions or to
whom to direct comments. If they don't like remedial decisions, it's
unclear to whom they should complain. They don't know what rights they
have to influence or challenge such decisions.

For that reason, CPEO recommends,that the official cleanup team at each
cleanup property prepare a local "Regulatory Framework Profile," as both
a document  and a briefing, explaining the roles and responsibilities of
each official agency at that facility. If different contaminants or
parcels are subject to distinct frameworks, then the scope of each
should be defined.  If agencies disagree over their respective
authorities, that too should be explained.

These are issues that need to be resolved, whether or not such profiles
are generated, so actual publication should be relatively inexpensive
and painless. And the benefits to the public could be enormous. That is,
with a solid understanding of the regulatory process, public
stakeholders could more constructively and effectively influence the
local cleanup process.


Lenny Siegel
Director, Center for Public Environmental Oversight
c/o PSC, 278-A Hope St., Mountain View, CA 94041
Voice: 650/961-8918 or 650/969-1545
Fax: 650/961-8918

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