Toxic Substances:

PCB Spill at the Guam Naval Power Generating Plant

NSIAD-88-217: Published: Sep 22, 1988. Publicly Released: Sep 30, 1988.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO evaluated the Navy's actions in response to the release of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) at its Piti Power Plant in Guam.

GAO found that the Navy: (1) immediately initiated cleanup efforts after the spill; (2) may have exposed some employees and cleanup personnel to other toxins, since it did not immediately determine if the PCB spill generated other toxins; (3) did not have a prenegotiated contract for site characterization and cleanup recommendation; (4) did not provide cleanup personnel with adequate personal protective equipment; (5) did not provide hazardous materials management training to all cleanup personnel; (6) included all employees in the plant at the time of the spill, cleanup personnel, and continuing operations personnel in its medical monitoring program, but did not ensure that all personnel received baseline medical examinations or timely examinations after the spill; (7) after the spill, established a medical monitoring program to ensure timely examinations for potentially affected personnel; (8) had scheduled replacement of a faulty PCB transformer during fiscal year 1989; and (9) will spend about $6 million for site cleanup.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Navy is studying the problem and identified a contractor to use for cleanup, but has not yet issued a report. What the Navy refers to as " clean" contracts will provide coverage to all Navy sites (U.S. and Territories) using PCB equipment. Contracts for the West Coast and Pacific, NW and Western, and SW Divisions and NAVFACENGCOM have been awarded. Awards will be made in May/August 1990.

    Recommendation: In view of the problems encountered at Piti Power Plant and the potential for similar problems at other Navy facilities, the Secretary of the Navy should determine the feasibility of having prenegotiated testing, sampling, and detailed characterization contracts available at all installations using PCB equipment.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Navy

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: A panel was established to review Navy policies and implement recommendations and unique PPE requirements. Guidance was drafted to get all items into stock for easy access and the Navy PCB guide was updated in July 1989. The guide identifies spill kit requirements and equipment resources. The guide is being advertised world-wide. Guam has verified that all items are available at PWC.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Navy should have the Navy Supply Command, in line with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and Navy regulations, stock the required personal protective equipment (PPE) in a readily accessible location.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Navy

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: A senior panel was set up on July 28, 1988 and contained the required emphasis. Navy and Marine Corps policy requires medical exam in accordance with OSHA and Navy standards. Compliance is monitored through Navy Inspector General (IG) inspections.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Navy should emphasize the requirements that employees who work in hazardous conditions receive baseline medical examinations before entry into the work place and receive the regularly scheduled medical examinations.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Navy

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Navy employees with potential for PCB exposure will have PCB training under the hazardous communications program. Field activity compliance with requirements will be verified by the Navy IG.

    Recommendation: In view of the problems encountered at Piti Power Plant and the potential for similar problems at other Navy facilities, the Secretary of the Navy should ensure that the required training for employees working in potential hazardous situations, such as Piti Power Plant, is provided so that they will be aware of the potential dangers and of what they should do if a problem arises.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Navy

 

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