2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: 29 Apr 2003 21:43:45 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Better guidance needed for former site cleanup programs -- report
The following can be viewed online at:

Greenwire Key Features
Tuesday, April 29, 2003
Better guidance needed for former site cleanup programs -- report
Suzanne Struglinski, Greenwire reporter

Coordination between the Defense Department and environmental regulators
over cleanup of contaminated military facilities has improved in recent
years, but clearer guidelines could further improve the situation,
according to a General Accounting Office report released yesterday.

GAO surveyed state officials and Army Corp of Engineers managers about
projects at 519 formerly used defense sites, also known as FUDS. The
Army corps is responsible for overseeing cleanup at more than 9,000 such
sites, areas once owned or controlled by the military and potentially
eligible for environmental cleanup.

The report, commissioned by House Energy and Commerce ranking member
John Dingell (D-Mich.), notes that DOD and the Corps of Engineers are
required by law to work with state and federal environmental regulators
in implementing cleanup programs. U.S. EPA is the chief oversight agency
for 21 FUDS properties on the agency's National Priorities List of the
most dangerous hazardous waste sites in the country. States regulate
most other FUDS that have hazardous and other wastes, but have not been
placed on the priorities list.

While generally finding the program in good order, GAO cited a lack of
clear direction in DOD's management guidance and FUDS program manual for
how to involve state and federal regulators in the cleanup process.
Specifically, GAO said the guidance fails to address Defense Department
consultation or coordination with regulators about explosive waste or
ordnance hazards during the preliminary phase of cleanup projects. Such
questions are central to decisions about whether a former defense site
is eligible for DOD cleanup or if it needs further investigation, the
report said.

State regulators surveyed for the report generally indicated that
coordination has improved over the last three years, but some states are
not getting enough information from DOD to carry out their regulatory
responsibilities or judge the validity of corps decisions at different
program stages, according to the report.

GAO recommends that the Defense Department "develop clear and specific
coordination guidance that should explicitly include, among other
things, preliminary assessment of eligibility and ordnance and explosive
waste." It also recommends that the corps examine efforts to improve
coordination at the national and district levels, and work with EPA to
clarify the role of state and federal regulators in the cleanup of sites
not appearing on the National Priority List.

The Defense Department did not dispute the findings and informed GAO
that it is implementing changes to improve coordination with regulators.
DOD comments, including those from Principal Assistant Deputy
Undersecretary for Installations and Environment Phillip Grone, said the
corps is revising its guidance to create step-by-step procedures for
regulatory coordination at each phase of FUDS cleanup, including the
preliminary assessment of eligibility phase.

EPA Assistant Administrator Marianne Lamont Horinko generally agreed
with the report's findings, adding that it did "an excellent job
presenting" the information.

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