Hazardous Waste Management at Tinker Air Force Base--Problems Noted, Improvements Needed

NSIAD-85-91: Published: Jul 19, 1985. Publicly Released: Aug 2, 1985.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed hazardous waste management practices at Tinker Air Force Base (AFB), Oklahoma.

GAO found that: (1) the base has been selling, transferring, or disposing of hazardous wastes rather than recycling them, as required by Department of Defense (DOD) waste management policies; (2) an industrial waste treatment plant at the base was not being used to full capacity; (3) rather than repairing a damaged portion of the treatment plant that could handle certain chemicals, the base is having the Defense Property Disposal Service dispose of them; (4) poor management of the plant has led to equipment problems, supply shortages, inadequate written policies, and improper collection, storage, and analysis of waste samples; (5) the base is not in compliance with regulations implementing the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act; (6) inadequate environmental monitoring on the base has caused the contamination of all of the major streams that flow across the base; and (7) the base has had problems with overcharges on hazardous waste disposal contracts.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Tinker AFB reorganized its offices responsible for managing the manifests and set-up procedures that provide better monitoring. An overall accomplishment report will be prepared when Tinker AFB completes other recommended actions, which should be completed soon.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force to improve monitoring of the manifest system at Tinker AFB to ensure that hazardous waste is properly accounted for and disposed of.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Tinker AFB awarded new disposal contracts that require it to approve disposal sites prior to use. This contract procedure was intended to help prevent DOD liability for environmental damage.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force to exercise greater caution in the selection of disposal sites at Tinker AFB to reduce potential DOD liability for environmental damage caused by their operations.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD has undertaken a study of the plant's operation to determine how it can be best utilized, including treatment of additional quantities. Completion of the study and implementation of its recommendations was completed in April 1988.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force to make better use of the industrial waste treatment plant at Tinker AFB to reduce the quantities of hazardous waste requiring disposal off base.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Efforts to improve waste segregation, including providing better equipment, facilities, and training for those using or handling hazardous materials and waste was completed in April 1988.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force to change operational procedures at Tinker AFB to better segregate hazardous wastes to facilitate recycling or reuse.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Air Force is pursuing various efforts, including waste segregation and recycling, to minimize the generation of hazardous waste. Some equipment is already in place creating savings. In addition, Tinker AFB has changed one of its cleaning processes which will reduce waste and create significant savings in the future.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force to procure all of the equipment necessary to recycle and reuse hazardous waste and identify other recycling opportunities to reduce hazardous waste generation at Tinker AFB.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: At the suggestion of GAO, Tinker AFB has recovered $50,000 from the contractor for overcharges. Increased emphasis has been initiated on contractor monitoring and a new system for quality control instituted. An additional $75,000 was under investigation by the Justice Department, and resolution of the outstanding claims was completed in April 1988.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force to improve monitoring of the disposal activities of hazardous waste disposal contractors at Tinker AFB.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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