Comments on H.R. 1720

EMD-82-B2: Published: Nov 5, 1981. Publicly Released: Nov 5, 1981.

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Legislation has been proposed which would establish a seven agency task force to: (1) identify ocean dumpsites and the nature of radioactive wastes dumped into the ocean prior to 1970, including the type of containment used and the date and method of dumping; (2) make a preliminary assessment of the adverse environmental and public health effects; and (3) develop a comprehensive plan for monitoring such wastes and to project and assess the short- and long-term adverse environmental and health impacts of the waste.

GAO believes that, although detailed information on the nature and extent of past ocean dumping does not exist, the deficiencies in the available data are not a key factor in determining the environmental or public health hazards that might exist. While GAO found that the great amount of evidence now available shows that neither an environmental nor public health hazard exists as a result of past ocean dumping practices, the evidence supporting the one source contending that such hazards exist was questioned within the scientific community. Consequently, GAO does not believe that past ocean dumping of radioactive wastes constitutes a serious health or environmental hazard. Therefore, GAO cannot support the need for the proposed legislation.

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