Environmental Problems at U.S. Overseas Military Activities (Unclassified Digest of a Classified Report)

CED-78-175: Published: Oct 16, 1978. Publicly Released: Oct 16, 1978.

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There has been growing concern about pollution among host countries at installations occupied by U.S. forces in Europe. Legislation states that U.S. activities should cooperate with host nations to solve environmental problems where consistent with U.S. policy, but troop-stationing agreements do not specifically discuss U.S. and host-nation responsibilities on pollution abatement.

Although a complete inventory of pollution problems has not been developed, military officials believe that $500 million might be needed to correct deficiencies at U.S. Army installations alone. Because there is no clear guidance on responsibilities, the services in Europe have managed pollution abatement programs on a piecemeal basis. Current Department of Defense (DOD) policy states that U.S. funds can be used for environmental improvement only if DOD originally provided the facility in question. Host nations are responsible for improving their own facilities. This policy could limit U.S. consideration of environmental improvements at its European facilities to about 20 percent of the problems identified.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense, in coordination with the Secretary of State and with technical assistance from the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, should change its overseas environmental policy to emphasize the environmental and associated economic and host-nation concerns affecting U.S. overseas activities. The Secretaries of Defense and State should demonstrate U.S. willingness to negotiate and carry out an agreement for environmental improvement and, when environmental degradation becomes an issue, should consult with the host nations to resolve environmental problems at DOD installations. The Secretary of Defense should direct the appropriate commands to identify and report on host-nation environmental laws and standards, the extent of pollution problems and remedial costs at U.S. overseas installations, and the ownership or source of financing for facilities on U.S. installations.

    Agency Affected:


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