1994-08-24 GAO – Better Data Needed For Radioactively Contaminated Defense Sites

On December 22, 1992, Senator John Glenn requested that the General Accounting Office (GAO) investigate whether the Department of Defense (DOD) has accounted for all of its radiologically contaminated sites.  The GOA found that the DOD could NOT identify the location, isotopes, or amount of radioactive material disposed of at its bases.

pdf icon 1994-08-24 GAO – Better Data Needed For Radioactively Contaminated Defense Sites (PDF, 18 pages)
Page 13: George AFB


Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the accuracy and adequacy of Department of Defense (DOD) data on military sites contaminated with low-level radioactive waste, focusing on data sharing among DOD and other agencies.

GAO found that: (1) DOD identification of radiologically contaminated sites depends on data that are often outdated, inaccurate, and incomplete; (2) data on contaminated sites are incorrect because some sites have been double-counted while others have not been identified; (3) some Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) sites and former DOD sites have not been included in the data; (4) the DOD database includes general categories of contaminants at sites, such as low-level radiation, but it cannot identify specific contaminants or quantities; and (5) more specific information would better help identify the types of contamination that exist, the types of required cleanup, and potential risks associated with continued contamination and cleanup efforts.

1) Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should take action to improve DOD databases to ensure that they have sufficient low-level radioactive waste data for managing the contaminated sites’ restoration. Specifically, the Secretary should require that DLA and the military services correct current data errors and ensure that data are reported to the Office of the Secretary of Defense at least four times a year.
Agency Affected: Department of Defense

Status: Closed – Implemented

Comments: In April 1995, OSD requested that the military services and agencies review their databases to ensure that they: (1) contain accurate data and to correct any discrepancies; and (2) capture all the data necessary for prudent low-level radioactive waste site management. Regarding quarterly updates, OSD changed its requirement for updating from four times a year to once a year. When current information is required by OSD, the services provide updates

2) Recommendation: Because data on specific contaminants are readily available and potentially useful for management decisions, the Secretary of Defense should modify DOD reporting requirements to include such information, as well as data available on estimated quantities of contaminants.
Agency Affected: Department of Defense

Status: Closed – Implemented

Comments: DOD agrees that information concerning specific contaminants and contaminant quantities should be maintained, if known, but believes that such information should be maintained at the service level. DOD stated the services provide OSD with information on specific contaminants when it is required. Beginning in 1997, however, DOD included specific information on contamination and on pathways by which contaminants could reach receptors.

Source: http://www.gao.gov/products/NSIAD-94-168

I am not a doctor or attorney, and cannot give medical advice or legal advice.

If you, a friend, or loved one has been injured or died as a result of the contamination at a DOD Superfund Site please follow the steps that are outlined at Get Help.

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