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Pentagon slow to clean up bases, report says

By Ed O'Keefe

Eye Opener

After more than 20 years of disagreements the Defense Department is still resisting orders from the Environmental Protection Agency to clean up Fort Meade and two other military bases.

Pollution cleanup at Fort Meade in Maryland, New Jersey's McGuire Air Force Base and Tyndall Air Force base in Florida remain in the early stages with little long term progress, according to a Government Accountability Office report set for release this week. (See the full report below.)

The Pentagon is the nation's biggest polluter, owning 141 of the 1,620 Superfund sites on the EPA's list. The Defense Department spent about $29.8 billion on environmental cleanup at military installations from 1986 to 2008, GAO said. By law EPA is supposed to sign interagency agreements with federal agencies that own Superfund sites, but as of June the Defense Department hadn't signed agreements for four of its sites, GAO said.

The Post reported more than two years ago that the Pentagon didn't want to sign such agreements with EPA, since it would put the environmental agency in charge of cleanup at the sites and allow it to assess penalties.

The GAO report, requested by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), found that much of the disagreement centers on how the Pentagon and EPA measure the level of cleanup. The environmental folks use metrics established by the Superfund program, but the military uses a different system based on its own environmental restoration program.

Auditors also faulted the Defense Department for failing to disclose some contamination to EPA and the public in a timely fashion, including lead shot found on a playground at Tyndall in June 2009 that potentially put young children at risk.

A Pentagon spokeswoman said officials are reviewing the report and would not comment.

Menendez thanked the Defense Department for choosing "to end a number of the ongoing bureaucratic turf battles," but said "the Pentagon has been the main obstacle -- it has to cooperate more if we are to fully protect public health at these installations."

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below

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GAO report on Pentagon cleanup of military bases

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By Ed O'Keefe  | August 16, 2010; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Eye Opener, Military, Turf War  
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Seems rather strange to me that today soldier should not just fight in the combat. During his rest he seemingly has to be a politically correct, eco-friendly member of society. That's where the private mercenary armies come into play — silent, effective, not paying attention to some random civilian casualties (

Do we really need this kind of a soldier?

Posted by: last_boy_scout | August 16, 2010 8:49 AM | Report abuse

The military is a blunt tool, and damage is the object, with few, if any, reservations. Commanders think is not their job to clean up anything, and unless we make them do it, they will not do so.

Private armies and mercenaries are even worse, with ONLY the profit motive, and nothing else, for a goal, and no allegiance to anything but the money.

Posted by: gkam | August 16, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

and yet another valid example of the institutional bias in the armed forces against oversight, control, and adherence to Federal Law. We don't let soldiers selectvely decide on which directives to adhere to, and we should not allow the armed services to pick and choose what Federal Laws they want to adhere to either.

Clearly, this is a systemic failure from the top down at the Pentagon and a clear example of why we need to decrease the armed services footprint on our homeland.

Posted by: tiedyeguy | August 16, 2010 12:32 PM | Report abuse

@ tiedyeguy. Ain't gonna happen... there are just too many Pentagon dictators who rule their kingdom. Look what happened to JFK!

Posted by: darbyohara | August 16, 2010 1:10 PM | Report abuse

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