Chemical Weapons Storage:

Communities Are Not Prepared to Respond to Emergencies

T-NSIAD-93-18: Published: Jul 16, 1993. Publicly Released: Jul 16, 1993.

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GAO discussed the Army's Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program (CSEPP), which it established to improve emergency response in communities near its chemical weapons storage sites. GAO noted that: (1) the Army coordinates its chemical emergency response planning with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA); (2) many communities near Army chemical weapons stockpile sites lack the capability to quickly alert emergency management officials, responders, and residents of chemical emergencies; (3) CSEPP emphasizes evacuation over sheltering as an emergency response option, but has done little to help communities plan for sheltering, even though sheltering is frequently the best available response option; (4) CSEPP has not determined what protective gear would be necessary for first responders to a chemical emergency; (5) local emergency medical capabilities may be inadequate to handle a chemical emergency; (6) CSEPP management is fragmented and has yet to meet management goals it set in March 1990; and (7) although FEMA has administered about $130 million in CSEPP funds, it cannot accurately account for how it spent those funds.

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