Pollution Prevention:

Status of DOD's Efforts

NSIAD-95-13: Published: Nov 9, 1994. Publicly Released: Dec 12, 1994.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the status of the Department of Defense's (DOD) pollution prevention efforts, focusing on the: (1) extent to which DOD collects and reports information on its toxic chemical inventories and releases; (2) progress DOD has made in reducing the use of toxic chemicals; (3) problems that hinder DOD efforts to reduce the use of toxic chemicals; and (4) extent to which DOD has incorporated pollution prevention goals in its procurement and inventory processes.

GAO noted that: (1) DOD is gathering information on toxic chemical inventories and releases and anticipates it will have this information by the reporting date required by Executive Order 12856; (2) the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has provided draft guidance to federal agencies on collecting and reporting information on toxic chemicals; (3) DOD and EPA are negotiating several of the proposed provisions in EPA's draft guidance to reduce implementation costs; (4) the extent that DOD has reduced the use of toxic chemicals cannot be measured because that information is not now available; (5) DOD's past efforts have focused on treating and controlling pollution rather than eliminating the use of toxic chemicals; (6) DOD has reported progress in reducing the amount of hazardous waste disposal and the use of toxic chemicals; (7) much of the reported reductions have been achieved through reducing the volume, but not the toxicity of hazardous waste; (8) DOD believes that significant reductions in the use of toxic chemicals will be difficult; (9) the services believe their current estimates of about $2 billion during fiscal years 1994 through 1999 for pollution prevention efforts exclude potentially significant costs; (10) as required by Executive Order 12856, DOD is reviewing military specifications and standards that call for the use of toxic chemicals in repairing and maintaining weapon systems and facilities, but will not likely meet the Executive Order requirements to review and revise all military specifications by the deadline; (11) each specification must be analyzed separately to determine the necessity of requirements for toxic chemicals and whether a suitable less toxic substitute is available or should be developed; (12) DOD is emphasizing the use of commercial practices and performance-based specifications to minimize the use of military specifications and standards; (13) the services have not comprehensively incorporated environmental concerns in the design, development, and production of weapon systems, but are beginning to do so; (14) DOD has not, on a systematic basis, revised its procurement and acquisition regulations to address environmental pollution concerns; (15) DOD's supply system is not designed to systematically provide visibility and control over hazardous materials purchases, and acquisition regulations do not provide guidance for addressing environmental concerns in day-to-day purchasing decisions; and (16) DOD is developing approaches to provide better visibility and control over hazardous materials inventories to help reduce the generation of hazardous wastes.

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