2010 CPEO Military List Archive

From: Lenny Siegel <lennysiegel@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, 16 Aug 2010 20:55:31 -0700 (PDT)
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] REGULATION: GAO report on Fort Meade (MD), McGuire AFB (NJ), and Tyndall AFB (FL)
Superfund: Interagency Agreements and Improved Project Management Needed to Achieve Cleanup Progress at Key Defense Installations

Government Accountability Office
July 15, 2010

EPA and DOD use different terms and metrics to report cleanup progress; therefore, the status of cleanup at Fort Meade Army Base, McGuire Air Force Base (AFB), and Tyndall AFB is unclear. EPA reports that cleanup at all three installations is in the early investigative phases, while DOD's data suggest that cleanup is further along and, in some cases, in mature stages. EPA and DOD have differing interpretations of cleanup progress because they describe and assess cleanup differently. In particular, while both agencies divide installations into smaller cleanup projects, DOD divides them into units generally smaller than EPA's; therefore, DOD measures its progress in smaller increments. Further, because DOD did not obtain EPA's approval for key cleanup decisions, EPA does not recognize them. Unless key cleanup decisions are justified, documented, and available to the public for review and comment, they are not sufficient under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), and once an IAG is in place, some DOD cleanup work may have to be redone. When an agency refuses to enter into an IAG and cleanup progress lags, because of statutory and other limitations, EPA cannot take steps--such as issuing and enforcing orders--to compel CERCLA cleanup as it would for a private party. A variety of obstacles have delayed cleanup progress at these installations. First, DOD's persistent failure to enter IAGs, despite reaching agreement with EPA on the basic terms, has made managing site cleanup and addressing routine matters challenging at these installations. For example, in the absence of IAGs, DOD may fund work at other sites ahead of these NPL sites. Second, DOD failed to disclose some contamination to EPA and the public in a timely fashion, including lead shot on a playground, delaying cleanup and putting human health at risk. Third, the extensive use of performance-based contracts at these installations has created pressure to operate within price caps and fixed deadlines. In some cases, these pressures may have contributed to installations not exploring the full range of cleanup remedies, or relying on nonconstruction remedies, such as allowing contaminated groundwater to attenuate over time rather than being cleaned up. In particular, Tyndall AFB's long-standing lack of full compliance with environmental cleanup requirements, such as notification of hazardous releases and EPA's 2007 administrative order, has been an obstacle to verifiable cleanup of that installation. GAO is recommending, among other things, that EPA and DOD identify options that would provide a uniform method for reporting cleanup progress at the installations and allow for transparency to Congress and the public. EPA and DOD agreed with the recommendations directed at them. GAO is also suggesting that Congress may want to consider giving EPA certain tools to enforce CERCLA at federal facilities without IAGs. DOD disagreed with this suggestion. GAO believes EPA needs additional authority to ensure timely and proper cleanup at such sites.


For the original Highlights and a link to the full report, go to


Lenny Siegel
Executive Director, Center for Public Environmental Oversight
a project of the Pacific Studies Center
278-A Hope St., Mountain View, CA 94041
Voice: 650/961-8918 or 650/969-1545
Fax: 650/961-8918

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