Hazardous Waste:

Status of Air Force's Installation Restoration Program

NSIAD-86-28BR: Published: Dec 17, 1985. Publicly Released: Jan 21, 1986.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Air Force's efforts to deal with groundwater contamination at McClellan Air Force Base, specifically the overall organizational structure of the Air Force Installation Restoration Program (IRP).

GAO noted that the McClellan IRP evidenced a number of problems, including: (1) the Air Force's responsibility and authority for conducting off-base investigations and cleanups; (2) difficulties in preparing an overall statement of work where extensive contamination exists; and (3) the need for greater regulatory agency involvement in IRP. GAO found that: (1) the Department of Defense (DOD) is responsible for all on-base and off-base programs where off-base contamination results solely from on-base disposal sites; (2) the Environmental Protection Agency is responsible for off-base problems where there is a question of whether off-base contamination results from a DOD disposal site; (3) staging allows better preparation of statements of work, based on prior efforts to adequately address contamination magnitude and rate of movement; and (4) early Air Force policy, which prevented the release of preliminary data to regulatory agencies, led to delays and confrontations with regulatory agencies. GAO also found that: (1) Air Force actions to involve regulatory agencies now include the formation of a task force, which provides both regulatory agency and public input to IRP; (2) the Air Force revised its IRP guidance to provide for a multistaged, incremental approach which would include a series of decision points at which data could be shared with the regulatory agencies; and (3) McClellan now performs annual testing of its drinking water supplies to ensure that the water meets state standards.

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