|From:||Lenny Siegel <email@example.com>|
|Date:||Wed, 19 Oct 1994 13:37:54 -0700 (PDT)|
RADIATION RECORD-KEEPING The Congressional General Accounting Office reports that the Department of Defense still does not have a good centralized record- keeping system on radioactive contamination on its own property. It concludes, "DOD's identification of radiologically contaminated sites and their cleanup relies on data that often are outdated, inaccurate, and incomplete." It recommends that contamination be listed by contaminant, rather than simply as low-level radioactive waste. It also say that the Defense environmental information system be improved to "distinguish burial sites and contamination from ongoing activities...." Senate Governmental Affairs Committee chair John Glenn (D- Ohio), who requested the GAO review, sent a letter to Defense Secretary William J. Perry urging him to implement GAO's recommendations. In releasing the GAO report, Glenn said, "Eight years ago, I first brough this problem to the attention of the Pentagon after a serious radioactive spill occurred at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base [in Ohio]. At that time, a number of military and civilian personnel were exposed, due to lax Pentagon and Nuclear Regulatory Commission oversight, to the radioactive material Americium-241...." Glenn added, "I do not want to wait for another Wright- Patterson-type spill to occur before concrete action is taken. Lax oversight and control over radioactive materials within the Department of Energy has left America with an environmental nightmare and the public with a $300 billion clean up tab. Though the DOD does not have the contamination problems of the magnitude as those at our nuclear weapons complex, I do not want to see comparable avoidance behavior occur at our nation's military bases.... It makes it awful hard to control and clean up a dangerous material if you don't even know what that material is." Glenn also released a Pentagon-provided list of radiologically contaminated military sites. Though the list is neither complete nor accurate, it appears that site-level military officials generally have much better information about radioactive contamination than appears in Pentagon record systems. Single copies of the GAO report, "Environmental Cleanup: Better Data Needed for Radioactively Contaminated Defense Sites," (GAO/NSIAD-94-168), August 1994, may be ordered at no cost from GAO by calling 202/512-6000 or sending a fax to 301/258-4066.
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