What Have HUD and EPA Done To Deal With High Radiation Levels in Two Montana Cities?

CED-80-63: Published: Feb 8, 1980. Publicly Released: Mar 10, 1980.

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Pursuant to a Congressman's request, a review was made of Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) activities and responsibilities concerning the recently disclosed raised levels of radiation in the areas of Butte and Anaconda, Montana. Of specific concern were: (1) the HUD criteria used for restricting federal funding for housing and other investments in areas of potential hazards; (2) HUD attempts to balance community economic needs with considerations of potential hazards in HUD-supported housing; (3) the responsibility of the costs for testing homes for radiation and whether EPA is able to meet the demand of the required testing; (4) whether this is an isolated incident, and if not, what activity is underway to identify other hazardous sites; (5) remedies HUD and EPA can offer occupants of federally supported housing where hazardous substances have been found; (6) interagency coordination concerning hazardous substances; (7) EPA responsibility for, and administration of, monitoring residential and working area radiation levels in the United States; (8) attempts to study areas of abnormally high cancer rates in order to establish causal relationships; and (9) Veterans Administration (VA) and Farmers Home Administration (FmHA) procedures for handling hazardous substance problems in housing. Observations were also made on the federal responsibility for monitoring and regulating hazardous substances affecting housing.

HUD has no consistent procedures for restricting federal funding for housing where hazardous substances create a potential hazard, nor does it have any formal procedure for balancing its actions regarding community economic needs with considerations of potential hazards in HUD-assisted housing. While radiation tests conducted on individual homes have traditionally been considered an expense of sale by the owner, under a HUD technical assistance grant, the Montana Department of Health and Environmental Sciences has been conducting site tests at a rate sufficient to meet the level of requests. Neither HUD nor EPA have any general cleanup authority or testing responsibilities, radiation monitoring programs, or programs to help occupants of federally assisted housing contaminated by hazardous substances. HUD has established a task force to promote interagency cooperation regarding hazardous substances, although there is no general cooperative agreement between HUD and EPA, and EPA has no agreements with any agency regarding radon gas. Neither VA nor FmHA have any specific procedures for handling hazardous substances problems in housing.

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