Hazardous Waste:

DOD Efforts To Preclude Disposal of Contaminated Property Need Improvement

NSIAD-87-45: Published: Dec 15, 1986. Publicly Released: Feb 13, 1987.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO evaluated the Department of Defense's (DOD) efforts to preclude the disposal of contaminated excess real property.

GAO noted that federal property management regulations require federal agencies to report excess property to the General Services Administration (GSA), including whether the property's present condition would be hazardous to health and safety. GAO found that: (1) the military services' reports were often either missing or incomplete; (2) because the services have conducted incomplete inspections, they may risk exposing the public to hazardous waste contamination and increase the government's potential liability for future cleanups; (3) since excess real properties can be part of active installations, they are sometimes located in the vicinity of potential hazardous waste sites; and (4) the services do not require evaluations of the effects of possible contamination migration, although state environmental officials believe that migration could affect excess real property and the government's liability for future decontamination expenses.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD issued a directive, but it did not contain the level of detailed guidance recommended. The Office of the Inspector General advised GAO, however, that the services have now issued regulations that partially implemented the recommendation. OIG was advised that no changes will be made in the regulations and that EPA rules will supercede the GAO recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the services to: (1) require that both records searches and visual inspections be performed and documented; (2) mutually agree to and use consistent criteria in the identification of potential contamination and certification of excess real property; and (3) update disposal documentation for excess real properties that are still in the disposal process to conform with current requirements.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD issued a directive, but it did not contain the level of detailed guidance recommended by GAO. OIG/DOD advised GAO, however, that the services have now issued regulations that implement the recommendation. They have reviewed the regulations and have closed the case. They were also advised that when EPA rules come out, they will probably supercede the GAO recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should emphasize to the services the importance of disclosing to GSA the potential contamination on the excess property identified through a records search and a visual inspection, actions taken to confirm the extent of contamination, and plans for any necessary decontamination.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD issued a directive, but it did not contain the level of detailed guidance recommended by GAO. OIG/DOD advised GAO, however, that the services have now issued regulations that implement the recommendation. They have reviewed the regulations and have closed the case. They were also advised that when EPA rules come out, they will probably supercede the GAO recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the services to require in their disposal policies, and fully disclose to GSA, an evaluation of any potential contamination migrating from hazardous waste sites in the vicinity of the excess property.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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