[House Hearing, 110 Congress] [From the U.S. Government Printing Office] [H.A.S.C. No. 110-70] EMERGING CONTAMINANTS AND ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT AT DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE INSTALLATIONS __________ HEARING BEFORE THE READINESS SUBCOMMITTEE OF THE COMMITTEE ON ARMED SERVICES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES ONE HUNDRED TENTH CONGRESS FIRST SESSION __________ HEARING HELD JULY 12, 2007 [GRAPHIC(S) NOT AVAILABLE IN TIFF FORMAT] ---------- U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE 38-034 PDF WASHINGTON : 2008 For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office Internet: bookstore.gpo.gov Phone: toll free (866) 512-1800; DC area (202) 512-1800 Fax: (202) 512-2104 Mail: Stop IDCC, Washington, DC 20402-0001 READINESS SUBCOMMITTEE SOLOMON P. ORTIZ, Texas, Chairman GENE TAYLOR, Mississippi JO ANN DAVIS, Virginia SILVESTRE REYES, Texas WALTER B. JONES, North Carolina LORETTA SANCHEZ, California J. RANDY FORBES, Virginia ROBERT A. BRADY, Pennsylvania MIKE ROGERS, Alabama JIM MARSHALL, Georgia JOHN M. McHUGH, New York MADELEINE Z. BORDALLO, Guam HOWARD P. ``BUCK'' McKEON, MARK UDALL, Colorado California DAN BOREN, Oklahoma ROBIN HAYES, North Carolina NANCY BOYDA, Kansas FRANK A. LoBIONDO, New Jersey CAROL SHEA-PORTER, New Hampshire TOM COLE, Oklahoma JOE COURTNEY, Connecticut ROB BISHOP, Utah DAVID LOEBSACK, Iowa CANDICE S. MILLER, Michigan GABRIELLE GIFFORDS, Arizona TRENT FRANKS, Arizona KATHY CASTOR, Florida CATHY McMORRIS RODGERS, Washington Dave Sienicki,Professional Staff Member Eryn Robinson, Professional Staff Member Tom Hawley, Professional Staff Member Sarah Schaffer, Staff Assistant C O N T E N T S ---------- CHRONOLOGICAL LIST OF HEARINGS 2007 Page Hearing: Thursday, July 12, 2007, Emerging Contaminants and Environmental Management at Department of Defense Installations.............. 1 Appendix: Thursday, July 12, 2007.......................................... 17 ---------- THURSDAY, JULY 12, 2007 EMERGING CONTAMINANTS AND ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT AT DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE INSTALLATIONS STATEMENTS PRESENTED BY MEMBERS OF CONGRESS Jones, Hon. Walter B., a Representative from North Carolina, Readiness Subcommittee......................................... 2 Ortiz, Hon. Solomon P., a Representative from Texas, Chairman, Readiness Subcommittee......................................... 1 WITNESSES Beehler, Alex A., Assistant Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Environment, Safety, and Occupational Health)................. 3 Stephenson, John B., Director, Natural Resources and Environment, U.S. Government Accountability Office.......................... 5 APPENDIX Prepared Statements: Beehler, Alex A.............................................. 43 Stephenson, John B........................................... 21 Documents Submitted for the Record: [There were no Documents submitted.] Questions and Answers Submitted for the Record: Mr. Bishop................................................... 74 Ms. Bordallo................................................. 73 Mr. Loebsack................................................. 74 Mr. McKeon................................................... 72 Mrs. McMorris Rodgers........................................ 71 Mr. Ortiz.................................................... 67 Mr. Taylor................................................... 74 EMERGING CONTAMINANTS AND ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT AT DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE INSTALLATIONS ---------- House of Representatives, Committee on Armed Services, Readiness Subcommittee, Washington, DC, Thursday, July 12, 2007. The subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 2:07 p.m. in room 2118, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Solomon P. Ortiz (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding. OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. SOLOMON P. ORTIZ, A REPRESENTATIVE FROM TEXAS, CHAIRMAN, READINESS SUBCOMMITTEE Mr. Ortiz. This hearing will come to order. I thank our distinguished witnesses for appearing before this subcommittee today to talk about our environmental restoration programs. The Department has faced a daunting task of addressing environmental contamination in a variety of bases, both active and closed, for many years. In some cases, contamination dates back to the Revolutionary War. But the fact remains that the costs to complete the cleanup of known contaminants exceed $32 billion. After putting nearly $1.9 billion toward these requirements in fiscal year 2008, the Department estimates the overall cost of cleanup known as contaminants is expected to increase in future years. It is not in the Department's best interests to conform to the minimum cleanup goals just to avoid litigation and to establish a formal cleanup goal by the year 2061 because of fiscal limitations. That is not how a great, free Nation operates. This strategy is flawed, irresponsible, and will place additional environmental burdens on the Department in the future. To the Department's credit, they have done a good job in determining a risk-based strategy of environmental cleanup, which could be a useful roadmap to apply scarce resources. Unfortunately, it appears that the Department has elected to give highest priority to funding cleanup at active installations. The Department must understand that the environmental contamination left by our forefathers is just as important to clean up as the environmental contamination left by today's force. Applying varying cleanup goals to active bases, Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) bases, and closed bases is losing support in the local communities that have strongly supported our bases in the past. The Department's current management strategy for perchlorate--and I hope I pronounce it right--or rocket fuel contamination is insufficient. It has been reported that the Department and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) are responsible for 90 percent of production in the United States. While it is apparent that the Department has contributed to the overall rocket fuel contamination, the Department seems to be applying sufficient Research and Development (R&D) funding to better characterize the nature of the source. Yet the Department has not performed a comprehensive review at former defense sites and has not fully identified the full extent of rocket fuel contamination to be cleaned up. The Department must continue to provide a serious review of former defense sites and provide the necessary funding to restore trust in the Department's ability to be responsible environmental stewards. As for Trichloroethylene (TCE) contamination, the Department has a long history of using and cleaning it up. However, unlike rocket fuel contamination, TCE contamination limits were set by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) way back in 1989. And it is my understanding that the Department has said it honored those limits since 1989. Doctors say new scientific information indicates that the exposure pathways and health impacts on TCE may not yet be fully understood. I am concerned that it may be years before this new information could be incorporated into new regulatory standards. So I am interested in hearing from you today how the Department is responding to TCE's uncertain regulatory requirement. The Chair now recognizes the distinguished gentleman from North Carolina, my friend Mr. Jones, for any remarks he would like to make. Mr. Jones. STATEMENT OF HON. WALTER B. JONES, A REPRESENTATIVE FROM NORTH CAROLINA, READINESS SUBCOMMITTEE Mr. Jones. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. This is an important and timely hearing. It highlights the difficult policy and budgetary issues involved in environmental stewardship, as well as the human element. By law, Federal agencies are now required to manage lands under their jurisdiction. Before these laws were enacted, the Department of Defense (DOD) and the military conducted environmentally harmful activities for some years. Now the requirements present an immediate and expensive liability to DOD. With each base closure round and each new emerging contaminant discovery, the bill grows larger. For that reason, DOD continues to budget annually for environmental cleanup at former defense sites, BRAC sites, and active installations. Cleanup is very expensive, and the sites are numerous. Nevertheless, human health is paramount and must be protected against known hazards. All of us are very sympathetic to those harmed through no fault of their own. It is especially aggrieving when the harm is caused through the careless actions of the Federal Government. In the case of Camp Lejeune, which I have the privilege to represent, I find it extremely distressing that young Marine families were required to live in substandard housing in the 1980's, supplied by contaminated water. It is clear that some children born to mothers living at Camp Lejeune at the time were affected. However, it is difficult to prove which children were harmed by the contaminated water and which had health difficulties unrelated to TCE. I know the matter of individual tort claims is under review, and I have no wish to interfere in that process. However, I urge the witnesses here today to do everything they can to prevent such tragedies in the future. We must act aggressively to try to mitigate immediate danger to military families. Our installations are home to our military families and military members. Those who volunteered to serve will live and train there. They expect to be safe during their brief return from missions overseas. Those in uniform face enough hazards when deployed. They should not be placed in harm's way here in America. Mr. Chairman, I want to thank you, as I close, for holding this hearing, and I look forward to our witnesses. And may we continue to do what is right for those in uniform. I yield back. Mr. Ortiz. Thank you so much. We are very happy to have our witnesses with us today. And we have the Honorable Alex Beehler, Assistant Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Environment, Safety and Occupational Health, Department of Defense; and Mr. John Stephenson, Director of Natural Resources and Environment, Government Accountability Office. And, without objection, the witnesses' prepared statements will be accepted for the record. And Mr. Secretary Beehler, whenever you are ready to start with your testimony. STATEMENT OF ALEX A. BEEHLER, ASSISTANT DEPUTY UNDER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE (ENVIRONMENT, SAFETY AND OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH) Secretary Beehler. Thank you very much, Chairman Ortiz, Congressman Davis, and distinguished members of the subcommittee. I appreciate the opportunity to appear before you today to discuss the Department of Defense activities associated with environmental restoration and emerging contaminants. The Department is committed to cleaning up property and protecting human health in the environment from contamination resulting from past military activities, while being a good steward of both the environment and the Federal budget. Department of Defense (DOD) has and will continue to comply with applicable Federal and state standards. The Defense Environmental Restoration Program, DERP, involves 31,000 sites at 4,600 active installations, BRAC installations and Formerly Used Defense Sites (FUDS) properties. Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and its implementing regulation, the National Contingency Plan, provide the framework for DOD's remediation efforts. Emerging contaminants are addressed under DERP, using the same CERCLA process. The DERP uses a worst-first cleanup philosophy that consistently tackles the higher-risk sites to achieve the greatest risk reduction. DOD considers emerging contaminants as those contaminants for which there is no established toxicity values or standards, or the toxicity value of standards are evolving due to new science. DOD has been proactively engaged with EPA and the State regulators on how to respond to emerging contaminants under such circumstances. By fiscal year 2006, we achieved remedy in place or response complete at 83 percent of the 28,000 installation restoration program sites with non-munitions contamination. In 2001, the Department established the Military Munitions Response Program, composed of some 3,300 sites, and by fiscal year 2006 we completed response action at 25 percent of those sites. DOD relies on perchlorate as an oxidizer in explosives, pyrotechnics, rocket fuel, and missiles, because it is the most efficient and stable propellant oxidizer available. There are two misperceptions about DOD and perchlorate. First, while DOD is a major purchaser of domestic perchlorate, our facilities do not appear to be the major source of contamination of drinking water based on the data reviewed to date. While DOD does have sites with perchlorate releases, these are mostly confined on base, and DOD is taking appropriate response actions, in consultation with EPA and State authorities. Over the past several years, research has revealed a number of significant natural and non-DOD man-made sources of perchlorate, such as road flares, fireworks, certain natural mineral formations, fertilizers, herbicides, and even chlorine bleach that can cause low-level widespread contamination. Now that an ability to differentiate between different sources of perchlorate exists, responsible parties can be identified with greater confidence. Second, it has been claimed that DOD will not respond to perchlorate unless a maximum contaminant level is established. In fact, DOD has been and will continue to take appropriate response actions for perchlorate, in consultation with EPA and State regulators. My written testimony contains seven such examples. Moreover, DOD has engaged a three-prong approach to risk management of perchlorate: One, assessing potential releases, where I note the vast majority of samples taken at these sites are either non-detects or levels well below the current EPA reference dose. Two, taking appropriate response actions where necessary. And three, investing millions of dollars in finding substitutes to eliminate perchlorate for military use, such as in pyrotechnic flare compositions. As for TCE, a solvent for cleaning metal parts, it became a common contaminant in groundwater due to past poor disposal practices by industry and DOD. Currently, 424 installations and FUDS properties have ongoing environmental restoration activities where TCE has been identified. Also, the Department over the last 10 years has found suitable replacements with other types of cleaning agents, such as citrus-based agents, mineral oils, and other non-toxic solutions. In conclusion, across DOD we are going beyond compliance, to ensure better sustainability of our assets and our mission capabilities. We will continue to take appropriate response actions for perchlorate, TCE, and other contaminants. We believe that DOD has acted responsibly as the science and understanding of perchlorate and other contaminants has evolved. In closing, Mr. Chairman, I sincerely thank you for this opportunity to highlight the Department's response activities related to chemical contaminants. [The prepared statement of Mr. Beehler can be found in the Appendix on page 43.] Mr. Ortiz. Mr. Stephenson. STATEMENT OF JOHN B. STEPHENSON, DIRECTOR, NATURAL RESOURCES AND ENVIRONMENT, U.S. GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY OFFICE Mr. Stephenson. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Mr. Loebsack. I am pleased to be here to discuss Government Accountability Office's (GAO) work on the Department of Defense's activities associated with emerging contaminants and the cleanup of its hazardous waste sites. DOD faces a daunting task of cleaning up thousands of active, closed, and formerly used military installations across the country. Many of these sites are contaminated with toxic substances in soil, water, or containers such as underground storage tanks, ordnance, and explosive and unsafe buildings. Identifying and investigating these hazards will take decades, and cleanup will cost many billions of dollars. Contamination problems at formerly used defense sites has economic consequences for individual communities, as the sites are now owned by States, local governments, and individuals for use for parks, schools, farms, and homes. Also, while many of the military facilities closed under DOD's BRAC program have been cleaned up and transferred to local communities for redevelopment, some have been awaiting cleanup and conversion for many years, and this delays the ability to replace jobs that were lost as a result of the base closures. My testimony today addresses two specific emerging contaminants, perchlorate and TCE, and draws on our reports on TCE contamination at Camp Lejeune, efforts to address perchlorate nationwide, cleanup at formerly used defense sites, as well as updated information from DOD, EPA, Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Centers For Disease Control (CDC). In summary, we found that while DOD classifies both TCE and perchlorate as emerging contaminants, there are important distinctions in the extent to which they are regulated and what is known about their effects on human health and the environment. TCE, as has been mentioned, is a degreaser for metal parts that DOD has used widely for industrial and maintenance processes for decades. It continues to be found in underground and surface water sources. TCE has been found to cause dizziness, headaches, nausea, unconsciousness, cancer, and even death in extreme exposures. EPA adopted a TCE drinking water standard of five parts per billion, as you mentioned, in 1989, and DOD has used this standard for requiring cleanups at installations such as Camp Lejeune, where 46 separate sites have been identified for cleanup. TCE is a big issue for DOD because of its widespread use. It has been found in over 1,400 defense sites, over half at concentrations exceeding the 5 parts per billion standard. Perchlorate, as you mentioned, is a primary ingredient and propellant used in rockets and missiles, has been found in drinking water, groundwater, surface water, and soil across the United States. However, EPA has in this case not yet set a drinking water standard, citing the need for additional research, and notwithstanding recent CDC and FDA studies showing that perchlorate can cause fetal development problems in pregnant women, and that there is extensive low-level perchlorate contamination in the Nation's food supply. In the absence of a Federal perchlorate standard, 8 states, including Texas and California, have established non-regulatory action levels or advisories for perchlorate ranging from 1 part per billion to 18 parts per billion, all below the National Academy of Sciences suggested 24 parts per billion. DOD adopted a new perchlorate policy in December of 2006 that applies broadly to DOD's active and closed installations, and uses the National Academy's 24 parts per billion action level to guide its testing and cleanup efforts. DOD has found perchlorate above 4 parts per billion at 135 active bases or thereabouts, but only 8 bases had concentrations above the 24 parts per billion action level. So the level which EPA ultimately sets a perchlorate standard, if they do at all, will be critical to DOD in terms of cleanup expense. Interestingly, several states have used their authorities to require DOD cleanups. For example, Texas required the Navy to reduce perchlorate levels and wastewater discharges at the McGregor Naval Weapons Industrial Reserve. In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, DOD faces significant challenges and potentially huge costs in addressing emerging contaminants, particularly in light of new scientific developments and regulatory uncertainty surrounding these chemicals and materials. DOD has stated further efforts to address perchlorate would require a regulatory standard from EPA. The fact some States have moved to create such standards complicates the issue by presenting DOD with varying cleanup standards across the country. Until EPA acts, DOD will continue to face questions about whether its efforts to control perchlorate contamination are sufficient to protect human health and the environment. Mr. Chairman, this concludes my statement. I will be happy to take questions. [The prepared statement of Mr. Stephenson can be found in the Appendix on page 21.] Mr. Ortiz. Thank you so much for your testimony. Dr. Beehler, you know all known high-risk contamination sites should be speedily cleaned. However, the Department has elected to place a priority of funding toward active installations and much lower priority toward former Defense sites. Can you explain why there is a difference in this approach between the active sites that we have plus the ones that have been like bases being closed in the past? Secretary Beehler. Mr. Chairman, several points. One is that the percentage spent on high-risk active installations related sites is the same percentage that is spent on FUDS high-risk sites within the total amount that is spent on FUDS versus the total amount that is spent on active installations. The second point is that in fact one must look at individual services. For instance, the Navy makes no discrimination really. They continue to spend money on the high-risk sites across the board, whether it is FUDS or the active installations. As to the Army, they over the last several years, in order to be the most efficient they could be as far as achieving cleanup and cost, they went to a performance-based contract approach, whereby this fiscal year 30 percent of all of their cleanup contracts are or are about to be performance-base oriented. And what that allows them to do is when they are in a given site--for example, Aberdeen Proving Ground has 253 sites, you know, some high risk, some medium risk, some low risk-- under the performance-based contracting, there is flexibility to use economies of scale. If there is, for instance, a given soil contamination interest that may cover--cut across all three levels of sites, then it is perceived to make the most sense to deal with that issue at all of those related sites within Aberdeen Proving Grounds. So there is this balancing between the triage effect of making sure that you are dealing with the worst first, as I alluded to in my testimony, and balancing that with the economies of scale that can be engendered at sites such as Aberdeen that have all three different categories. The other thing, of course, about FUDS sites is there are greater challenges that the military face. The military does not own the property, in many instances has had no connection with the property for decades. They are dealing with current owners of the property and also with interests from State and local regulators and communities as to how best to clean up the properties. So it is not an exact science, for the reasons that I suggest. Mr. Ortiz. You know--and the reason that I ask this question is because as times change, there might be a necessity to open new bases. And when we find out that there are certain communities who have never had their cleanup, other communities might be hesitant to receive our military. And this could create problems. So you say there is a goal that maybe between 2014, 2020, that maybe---- Secretary Beehler. Mr. Chairman, we are always pushing. The reason that these goals are set is sort of to establish benchmarks. And then they are annually reviewed to see where the services are in not only meeting the goals, but actually doing better, given--and this would certainly greatly apply to a FUDS situation--enhanced technology, to both find out what the contaminants are, as well as how best to remove them. And we certainly rely heavily on enhanced research to help speed things up and to do a more effective approach. We have also found, certainly the Army has, that by going with performance-based contracts they have found the cleanup is done more efficiently, more effectively, more expeditiously, and we would expect that that would carry forth in the dealing of cleanup of FUDS sites. Mr. Ortiz. Because you know, we want to be sure that we have recruitment, retention. It is just like the Veterans Administration (VA) hospital, when they cannot treat the veterans coming back from the war. I think this has an impact also in that if I had a son or daughter in the military, I don't want to have them go to a place where they are going to be drinking contaminated water. And you know, we want to work together, and I hope by working with the Congress and DOD that we can come up with a solution to hopefully expedite to do some of this cleaning up. Secretary Beehler. Well, I certainly appreciate that on behalf of the Department of Defense. And we certainly do want to work as closely as possible with Congress to achieve that goal. I might add, apropos your comment, that obviously on active installations we do have 24/7 responsibility of the service men and women and their families, which once again we want to make sure that contamination is effectively dealt with in that venue as well. Mr. Ortiz. Thank you. Mr. Loebsack, you have any questions? Mr. Loebsack. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thanks to you as well, Mr. Stephenson and Mr. Beehler. I am new to the Congress. And when I got on the Armed Services Committee, you know, of course I had to choose which subcommittees I wanted to be on. And the district in Iowa, we don't have bases as such right now much at all. But I do have, in my district in Middletown, the Iowa Army Ammunition Plant. And I thought about, while I was running for this office, I had heard stories about some of the contamination problems at that plant. And I am on this subcommittee in no small measure because I want that to be dealt with while I am in Congress at some point, and the problems. And it has been the site of an installation restoration program (IRP), since 1994. The groundwater and the soil at the plant are contaminated with both perchlorate and trichloroethylene. To date, the Army Environmental Center has spent about $90 million--that is the data that I have at least--on the cleanup effort. The restoration of the site is still not complete. And it is projected to cost an additional $11 million over the course of the next 5 years. And I suppose even more concerning for me and many of the people there at the plant and the areas, sites, within the plant's compound that were not originally selected for cleanup in 1994, but have since been found to be in need of remediation as a result of the plant's historical activities, are not included in the cleanup effort. Meaning that no money has been made available for the restoration. So I just want to ask at the outset, Mr. Beehler, if you have any direct knowledge of the cleanup efforts at the Iowa Army Ammunition Plant. I know there are many facilities around the country, but do you have any specific information on this? Secretary Beehler. Thank you, Congressman. As I think you know, generally the cleanup issues are handled on an installation-by-installation basis, and then as an oversight by the service particularly involved with the effort. I do have some minimum knowledge. I know, for instance, that a consortium led by the University of Iowa with other universities and other entities have a prototype trial project involving phytoremediation, which at this point is proving to be effective, and hopefully therefore can be expanded to have a more efficient cleanup. And as to the other aspect that you mentioned of sites or parcels that have been found to be contaminated but have not been included in the cleanup site, I don't have any direct knowledge about that. I would be happy to take that back to the Army, provide you with more detailed information. I can say that obviously--and I am sure you know this as well--that the remediation is done in accord with the State and Federal regulators, and therefore I can only assume at this point that there is a good reason that the regulators have concurred in as to why those parcels have not yet been included in the cleanup. But I will take that back for the record and get more detail for the committee. Mr. Loebsack. That is all I request. [The information referred to can be found in the Appendix beginning on page 74.] Mr. Loebsack. I really appreciate that very much, your cooperation. I look forward to working with you on it in the future. Thank you. Secretary Beehler. Thank you, sir. Mr. Ortiz. Chairman Taylor. Mr. Taylor. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Gentlemen, the only thing that I would ask of you is--I am from down south Mississippi. We got clobbered a couple years ago with the hurricane. And I would remind you both when I called the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) and the Chief of the National Guard Bureau and said we desperately needed help, both of them's very first words were, how are your bases? Where can I put people? And I got to know, just being human nature, that as you look at these problems there is going to be a tendency to say, you know, if we shut down our water well and just use city water maybe we can eliminate some of these problems. What I would definitely encourage you to keep in mind is that when the acts of terror that the chiefs have told us are going to happen in the States happen here, the same response is going to be coming from the Chief of the Guard Bureau and the CNO and others, okay; we got to get people in there. Where can we put them? Okay, we can put them on the bases. Can we feed them? Is there a place where they can take a shower, et cetera? And so I would just encourage you, to the greatest extent possible, to keep the bases self-sufficient when it comes to things like their water wells, when it comes to things like electrical generation, when it comes to things like even sewage treatment. I know that everything, all the pressure is on you to save money, say farm it out to the cities. But the cities in the wake of those storms could not take care of themselves, and the bases really did become where the folks rode to the rescue from. And I just want to throw that at you because it is something that we have been through that other people are eventually going to go through. And we should not be giving away for short-term gain, like to avoid a pollution problem, we should not be giving away national assets. Because each one of these assets--any one of those bases could be called upon to do the same thing that our bases in south Mississippi did two years ago. Secretary Beehler. Sir, I appreciate your comments. As you may know, the Defense Science Board has an energy task force that is about in the next couple of months to issue their report after a year's study. And one of the things that undoubtedly they will focus on is independence of military bases on energy, on utilities such as water, the very issues that you are raising. And we certainly anticipate that there will be significant push within DOD to attempt to achieve as much independence as possible in these areas per responsive to the recommendations that will emanate out of the task force. Once again, we have to wait and see for further detail because they haven't issued their report. Mr. Taylor. Sir, if I may, because my memory of the initial moves by Secretary Rumsfeld--I realize this is six years ago and he is no longer the Secretary--but a lot of the people that he brought to the table are still at the table. One of his moves was, to the greatest extent possible, was to farm out those responsibilities. If Keesler can get their water from the city of Biloxi, have them do so, et cetera. Again, hell, I could not have visualized how catastrophic that storm would have been, but I can now. And so the only point I am trying to make is when you make these decisions, I would hope that you would keep that in mind. Because like I said, whether it happens in Los Angeles, San Diego, wherever, those bases are going to--their bases are going to need to be every bit as self-sufficient as Keesler and the Naval Construction Battalion bases were for the benefit of south Mississippi. And I would just ask you, despite all the budgetary pressures that are telling you otherwise, to try to the greatest extent possible to protect those resources that the taxpayers have already paid for. Secretary Beehler. Yes, sir. Thank you. Mr. Taylor. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Ortiz. My good friend, Robin Hayes. You have any questions, Robin? Mr. Hayes. I will pass, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Ortiz. Thank you. One of the reasons we are here is because we do, in my opinion, have a serious problem. But Mr. Beehler, you indicated in your statement the Department has identified something like, what, $32 billion worth of environmental cleanup requirements? Yet the request that has been made for funding for fiscal year 2008 is only $1.8 billion. I was just wondering, do you have any input as to what the Department will have to--the request that they make to the Congress for funding? Secretary Beehler. I am sorry, sir, do I have any input? Mr. Ortiz. Input as to how much money you think not only coming from DOD, but to come to you guys who are the experts, and to say how much money do you think we should put in? Secretary Beehler. Well, with all candor, sir, those decisions are made at a higher level than mine. I can tell you that the $1.8, $1.9 billion cleanup level per year has been gradually increasing or being held steady over the course of the years. So it is sort of a consistent, and, it is my understanding, has been deemed, under all the circumstances and with various competing interests involved, the best level to get the job done given other competing circumstances. And I believe that, for instance, to date--the program started after 1986--so in roughly 20 years in today's dollars at least $32 billion has been spent on cleanup. And we are at roughly about 80-some percent response complete or in place. Mr. Ortiz. I think that when we have identified at least, you know, $32 billion worth of cleanup problems that we have, 1.9 or 1.8 is not sufficient to reduce the existing contamination that we have. So I am just hoping--and I know that we have some other priorities. I know we have got two wars going on at the same time. But it is a very serious problem. I know that at least one of the bases that we have in Texas that you are probably familiar with is the one in San Antonio. And I was just wondering what efforts has the Air Force taken to moderate potential problems with disease resulting from exposure to harmful chemicals among former civilian employees and military personnel who previously worked at the Kelly Air Force Base? Secretary Beehler. I am sorry; is this Kelly Air Force Base? Mr. Ortiz. Kelly Air Force Base, yes, sir. Secretary Beehler. As I understand it, there has been about $300 million spent by the Air Force to clean up Kelly. I believe that Kelly is basically a BRAC site, so that means that the base effectively has been closed. They have taken leadership and worked very closely with the communities in addressing the TCE issue, which I believe they spent $70-some- million focused on that issue alone, working closely with the city health municipal authorities, making sure that TCE no longer contaminates the drinking water of the surrounding neighborhoods. And as I understand it, the progress being made now is in the right direction. Mr. Ortiz. Because if I am correct--now, I could be wrong, but I understand that some of this contamination has spread to other communities which are not under the in-site existing military base. And what is being done to have the people who reside outside the areas of the military jurisdiction? Have they been advised that that area has been contaminated? Secretary Beehler. Well, my understanding is that there has been, at least in recent times, a very effective communication with the local communities about contamination issues and problems. And in fact there is, as I recall, two plumes which, through a wide variety of rather creative forward thinking--and once again with the approval of the local communities of a permeable barrier approach, have actually shrunk the respective plumes by half in the space of about three or four years. Much quicker than if they had engaged in pump and treat, which is the standard remediation that has historically been proven. So, as I say, it seems to be headed, for all those reasons, in the right direction. Mr. Ortiz. Mr. Taylor. Mr. Taylor. Again just for my memory, what have we spent on environmental restoration at bases that have been closed by previous rounds of BRAC to date, and what is your estimated amount to clean up the bases that have been identified to be BRAC'd by the panels that have already met and made decisions? Secretary Beehler. I hope I am going to answer your question correctly. Mr. Taylor. I will repeat it, because I tend to mumble. How much have we spent so far? And there are still installations that have been targeted for closure that have either not been closed or have not--or the environmental restoration has not taken place. So what is your estimate that you will have to spend just to fulfill what has been mandated by the rounds of BRAC that have already occurred? Secretary Beehler. I think there are roughly--if you include all rounds of BRAC, including the first four plus now the five, as best we understand the five, which is somewhat a work in progress---- Mr. Taylor. Sure. Secretary Beehler [continuing]. Because, of course, these are relatively newly added to the mix, it is roughly $3.9 billion needed to complete. Mr. Taylor. And what has been spent so far? Secretary Beehler. What has been spent so far? I want to say around $9 billion so far. Mr. Taylor. May I make this request of you? Secretary Beehler. I will take that back for the record. Mr. Taylor. Would you take it for the record and answer for the record? Secretary Beehler. I will, and give you the support. Mr. Taylor. Thank you very much, sir. [The information referred to can be found in the Appendix beginning on page 74.] Mr. Taylor. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Ortiz. Mr. Stephenson, in the absence of an EPA standard, do you think it is prudent for the Department to move forward and clean up sites contaminated with rocket fuel contamination? Mr. Stephenson. Well, I think they are moving forward using the National Academy's 24 parts per billion. But I think it is incumbent upon EPA to act first. They need to set a drinking water standard, and then DOD will know with certainty what the cleanup standard is. And there is a lot of support for that. The American Water Works Association, who represents all the private drinking water facilities and public drinking water facilities, has encouraged EPA to do so. So I think they actually need that regulatory standard in order to do a lot more. Mr. Ortiz. Does any other member have any questions? I know you just came in. I know you are full of questions. Mr. Bishop. Well, I am, and I feel chagrined here, because usually I have a good reason for either being late or missing a committee meeting. And this time I have no reason except I just forgot the time. So I apologize. And I am assuming you may have covered a lot of these issues. Can I just ask four questions? And if it has already been covered will you just stop me? Mr. Ortiz. You go right ahead. You are a very important member of this subcommittee. Mr. Bishop. If I was that important I wouldn't be sitting at the end of the aisle here. Mr. Stephenson, if I can start with you-- and you were probably talking about as I came in--but how many sites catalogued in the government accounting or the GAO's May 2005 report are contaminated sites nationwide where naturally occurring sources? Does that make sense? Mr. Stephenson. Yeah, we identified nearly 400 in total. Of those, there were upwards of 200 of those sites where it couldn't be determined. And we think it was reasonable to assume that around 100 of those are naturally occurring. Most of the naturally occurring perchlorate is in the desert southwest, in the high plains of Texas. Mr. Bishop. Based on any information that has come out since that report, do you have any kind of ballpark estimate of how many sites exist nationwide? Naturally occurring. Mr. Stephenson. No. That is the best information there is available. It is not easy to identify perchlorate sites. We had to work with EPA and DOD and many local communities and States to come up with that 400-site estimate. Mr. Bishop. And once again, you probably said this already, but I apologize for that. Of the 395-400, roughly, sites that you have that have been identified in that 2005 report, how many are currently experiencing remediation activity? Mr. Stephenson. We don't know. It has been two years since that study. About 65 percent of those sites were DOD sites, so maybe Mr. Beehler can shed some light on that. But we have not updated that information since then. Mr. Bishop. Mr. Beehler, do you have anything to add on how many are going through remediation at the present time? Secretary Beehler. I am happy to take that for the record. I do know that EPA said that we have 34, I believe, Superfund sites, of which really one installation accounted for 11 of those sites where perchlorate had been found. And these would be sites listed on the National Priorities List. Now, that is not, I don't think, exactly the same question that you asked, but it is a related answer. But I would be happy to take that back for the record and provide you the information we have. Mr. Bishop. I would be appreciative of that. [The information referred to can be found in the Appendix beginning on page 74.] Mr. Bishop. If I could ask maybe two other questions. Once again, if they have been covered, I apologize profusely for that. And it is my understanding that many of the defense, the aerospace industries are not waiting for the EPA to set the drinking water standards for this particulate, and they are spending a lot of money doing that. Is the Defense Department working with the private industry and other public agencies to gain the benefit of this private sector knowledge and expertise in this particular issue in this contaminant remediation technology? Secretary Beehler. Absolutely. That is one of the cornerstones of what we are looking at. For instance, we spent a total to date of about $114 million for a whole range of efforts, such as research into substitutes, better pollution prevention approaches, new technologies for more effective cleanup, for instance, and more effective handling of perchlorate. And we have set up a directorate within our office as a long-term institutional basis to examine perchlorate and other emerging contaminants. The directorate regularly meets with industry folks, with health regulators, environmental regulators, both at the State, local, and Federal level, county folks, water experts, to make sure that there is the most effective knowledge share in figuring out how best to proceed in this in the most cost-efficient manner, using the best science and technology available. Mr. Bishop. I am very happy to hear that. Once again, you probably covered that in your testimony, but that is wonderful to know, because these industries are putting millions of dollars into the research in this particular area. One last question then, Mr. Chairman, and I will yield back. Mr. Ortiz. Go right ahead. Mr. Bishop. If the EPA were to determine that this perchlorate should not be regulated by the drinking water standards, what effect would that determination have on the Department of Defense's current or future remediation activities? Secretary Beehler. To the best of my knowledge, I think very little. I mean we have before us, we all have before us the various health concerns that have been presented by the National Academy of Science, by the CDC, Center For Disease Control and we--and also by past research done by EPA. And we at DOD have made a commitment to make sure that we get our arms around, effectively, perchlorate and effectively deal with it. Right now we are following the current EPA guidance, which EPA guidance established a reference dose of 24 parts per billion based on the research put forward by the--and the study done by the National Academy of Sciences. So we have used that figure as our point of departure for instructing the services to examine whether there is a perchlorate problem and how best to deal with it. And that is the way we will continue. The other thing is, EPA is only one part of the picture here as far as a regulator is concerned. The states have a significant role. And already--and this was mentioned earlier in the hearing--states have stepped out. Foremost is Massachusetts, that has set a standard for drinking water of two parts per billion. We fully expect other states to take, you know, positions one way or the other on this. And we want to be--and our feeling is to be ahead of the curve rather than behind the curve in dealing with this issue, to be most effective in handling the health issues, and to do it most efficiently and economically. And that is the way we will continue to proceed. Mr. Bishop. Thank you. I appreciate both of you for answering those questions that I did have. Thank you for your indulgence. And once again I apologize for my tardiness, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Ortiz. Thank you, Mr. Bishop. Thank you very much. Mr. Stephenson, please tell us about impact of human exposure to TCE in drinking water and vapors in the air, if you could. Mr. Stephenson. Our TCE knowledge base is really limited to Camp Lejeune, where we looked at uptake from drinking water only. The research on intake from vapor is relatively new-- well, not relatively new, but is ongoing, and it is not finalized yet. The fact that there is a drinking water standard, though, is we think obviously excellent. And the research on that continues. And, in fact, EPA may even make that standard more stringent if the evidence supports that. Mr. Ortiz. But we are working on it to come up with a system to---- Mr. Stephenson. We are. There is ongoing research to study the intake from vapors as well as from drinking water. Breathing TCE is not good either. Mr. Ortiz. Mr. Beehler, I want to ask you the same question, but this has to do with vapors in the air. How do you address that? Secretary Beehler. Well, first we are following very closely the science and research that Mr. Stephenson has just alluded to. As he mentioned, there are several studies, recently the National Academy of Sciences, and in turn another panel of the National Academy of Sciences is studying Camp Lejeune. And I believe it is due out with a report in the next 6 to 12 months. In the meantime, we are engaged in working groups with EPA and the State regulators on whatis--given the state of flux, if you will, of the science and health effects on vapor intrusion--what should be the smart thing to do here and now as we are awaiting additional research information? We are also stepping out on a site-specific basis, going ahead and specifically testing and monitoring for vapor intrusion, as appropriate. Some of the services have put out guidances on how to handle vapor intrusion issues at individual sites. DOD departmental-wide is going to put out a guidance in the very near future so that we get a minimum consistent policy on what to look for and how to handle vapor intrusion issues while we are waiting for the research to come in and EPA to decide what to do about this issue. And, finally, once again, there have been States who have set vapor intrusion regulatory limits. And, of course, we comply with those accordingly. Mr. Ortiz. Any other member have any other questions? If not, I know there are a lot of members who wanted to be here, but there is a lot of activities going on, and they will probably submit to you some questions for the record. And being no further business, this hearing stands adjourned. Thank you so much for your testimony. [Whereupon, at 3 p.m., the subcommittee was adjourned.] ======================================================================= A P P E N D I X July 12, 2007 ======================================================================= PREPARED STATEMENTS SUBMITTED FOR THE RECORD July 12, 2007 ======================================================================= [GRAPHIC(S) NOT AVAILABLE IN TIFF FORMAT] ======================================================================= QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS SUBMITTED FOR THE RECORD July 12, 2007 ======================================================================= QUESTIONS SUBMITTED BY MR. ORTIZ Mr. Ortiz. In the absence of an EPA standard, do you think it is prudent for the Department of Defense to move forward and clean up sites contaminated with perchlorate? Mr. Stephenson. In the absence of a federal standard, at least 8 states have established non-regulatory action levels or advisories that range from 1 part per billion (ppb) to 51 ppb of perchlorate. In addition, Massachusetts established a drinking water standard of 2 ppb, and California is in the final stages of rulemaking to establish a 6 ppb standard. DOD certainly will have to move forward and clean up sites contaminated with perchlorate in those states. Our work detailed some of the significant challenges, and potentially large costs, that the Department of Defense (DOD) must address with regard to perchlorate.\1\ DOD's designation of perchlorate as an emerging contaminant, and January 2006 revisions to its perchlorate policy, reflects the department's recognition that the chemical has a significant potential impact on people and/or the department's mission. As we discussed in our April and July 2007 testimonies, DOD has certain responsibilities with regard to contaminants that are regulated by EPA or state governments, but the department's responsibilities and cleanup goals are less definite for contaminants, such as perchlorate, that lack federal regulatory standards.\2\ --------------------------------------------------------------------------- \1\ GAO, Perchlorate: A System to Track Sampling and Cleanup Results is Needed, GAO-05-462 (Washington, D.C.: May 20, 2005). \2\ GAO, Perchlorate. EPA Does Not Systematically Track Incidents of Contamination, GAO-07-797T (Washington, D.C.: April 25, 2007) and Environmental Contamination: Department of Defense Activities Related to Trichloroethylene, Perchlorate, and Other Emerging Contaminants, GAO-07-1042T (Washington, D.C.: July 12, 2007). --------------------------------------------------------------------------- The fact that some states have moved to create their own standards further complicates cleanup issues for DOD by presenting the department with varying standards across the country. Until a national perchlorate standard is adopted, DOD will continue to face differing requirements in different states and continuing questions about whether its efforts to control perchlorate contamination are necessary or sufficient to protect human health. Until EPA acts, we believe it is prudent for the department to have adopted a uniform perchlorate policy with sampling and cleanup criteria for both its active and closed installations. We also believe that DOD can do more to keep the public informed of its sampling and cleanup efforts for perchlorate and other emerging contaminants. Mr. Ortiz. Please tell us about the impact of human exposure to TCE from drinking water and from vapors in the air? Mr. Stephenson. According to the Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), trichloroethylene (TCE) is pervasive in the environment and is known or suspected to cause a range of health effects depending upon the level and length of exposure. Most people are likely to be exposed to TCE simply by drinking and breathing, but ATSDR also reported that TCE has been found in a variety of foods such as meats and margarine. HHS's National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey estimated that approximately 10 percent of the U.S. population has detectable levels of TCE in their blood as a result of these exposures. ATSDR's toxicological profile provides a summary of the known short- and long-term effects from drinking and breathing TCE. Drinking small amounts of TCE over long periods may cause liver and kidney damage, harm the immune system, and impair fetal development in pregnant women. Drinking large amounts may cause nausea, liver damage, impaired heart function, or death. With regard to breathing, ATSDR's profile states that small amounts of TCE may cause headaches, lung irritation, poor coordination, and difficulty concentrating, whereas large amounts may impair heart function and cause unconsciousness, nerve, kidney and liver damage, and death. However, there is less certainty about the long-term health effects from breathing small amounts of TCE on diseases such as cancer. ATSDR's profile noted that TCE is ``reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen,'' and the International Agency for Research on Cancer determined that TCE is probably carcinogenic to humans--specifically kidney, liver, and cervical cancers, Hodgkin's disease, and non- Hodgkin's lymphoma--based on limited evidence of carcinogenicity in humans and additional evidence from animal studies. Although EPA's Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) initially contained a carcinogenicity assessment, EPA withdrew it from IRIS in 1989. As such, EPA's IRIS database does not currently contain information on the health effects of TCE exposures. In 1998, EPA initiated a new TCE assessment but will not likely complete it until 2010, or later. Mr. Ortiz. Please provide the Committee with your recommendations for improvements in the management of environmental issues on DOD facilities? Mr. Stephenson. We recommend that DOD improve publicly available testing and cleanup information for emerging contaminants, including TCE, on its Web sites. During the course of our work, DOD did improve the information provided to the public about the results from its perchlorate testing program.\3\ In addition, we suggest that the Committee ask DOD and EPA to provide information about their joint work related to emerging contaminants, including (1) DOD involvement in EPA risk assessments, (2) DOD input into EPA regulations and IRIS updates, and (3) funding for studies that could advance their understanding of the health effects of emerging contaminants. --------------------------------------------------------------------------- \3\ See DOD's Materials of Evolving Regulatory Interest Team Web site, https://www.denix.osd.mil/denix/Public/Library/MERIT/merit.html, last accessed on September 5, 2007. --------------------------------------------------------------------------- Mr. Ortiz. Please describe how Environmental Management Systems function on installations. What proportion of these systems are paper- based, versus computer-based? I am aware that the Army has been conducting demonstration programs for web-based Environmental Management Information Systems. How are the web-based systems progressing, and how do they compare to the paper-based systems? What are the prospects for utilizing web-based Environmental Management Systems at all DOD facilities? Secretary Beehler. An Environmental Management System (EMS) is a process for analyzing and improving environmental aspects of operations. EMS is a formal framework for integrating the consideration of environmental issues into the overall management structure at an installation. When properly implemented, an EMS identifies the environmental aspects of the mission, highlights and prioritizes areas of risk, promotes pollution prevention, and tracks progress toward environmental goals. Cross-functional teams are formed with members from the various organizations on the installation whose activities interact with and impact the environment. These teams identify issues that are provided to an environmental management council who advise the installation commander on the management/prioritization of objectives, goals, and targets. Through an EMS, actions are implemented to meet the objectives, goals, and targets, and then assessed for effectiveness. The management system facilitates correction action for continuous improvement. With a successful EMS, an installation evaluates the environmental impacts of the various operations (planned and existing) on the facility, then establishes objectives, targets, and projects/ programs to improve or mitigate the more `significant' impacts. For example, the most significant impact at an `administrative' or `school house' installation (e.g., Fort Myer or West Point) might be energy use. That installation's EMS objectives and targets would then focus on reducing energy use and improving energy efficiency. Within DoD, the majority of installations/organizations with an EMS use computer based information systems to assist with EMS operation. Each Service develops its own methods for implementing EMS within overall DoD policies. It is important to remember that the EMS is a management process--a way of thinking and operating. An EMS is not simply an information system. Within the Army, the web-based Environmental Management Information Systems (EMIS) fielded in 2005 are fully functional. They have been well received by installation personnel and are both improving EMS performance and reducing administrative costs. EMIS automates current EMS architecture and provides a significant advance in performance and management of environmental tracking and task performance and has great potential in providing visibility of environmental performance Army wide. EMIS is significantly more cost effective than manual EMS systems and provides operational and management efficiencies. DoD provides overarching guidance on EMS requirements and performance, allowing the Services to develop their own implementation procedures based on their mission requirements. The prospects are good for each Service to use web-based systems to support their EMS. It makes good business sense and would further the overall EMS concept by aiding in information availability and management. Each Service also provides some or all of their EMS training by web-based delivery. DoD already uses web-based systems (DENIX, FedCenter, and the Joint Services Pollution Prevention Library) to provide EMS information, guidance, lessons learned, best practices, and to facilitate EMS status reporting. Mr. Ortiz. I believe that all known, high-risk contamination sites should be speedily cleaned. However, I note that the Department has elected to place a priority of funding toward active installations and much lower priority toward former defense sites. Can you explain why there is a difference in approach? Secretary Beehler. There are currently 21,106 active installation sites, which account for 68 percent of all Defense Environmental Restoration Sites. In FY 2007, the Department allocated 58 percent of the funds appropriated to the Department for Defense Environmental Restoration Programs towards the cleanup of active installations. By contrast, there are 4,654 Formerly Used Defense Sites (FUDS), which account for 14 percent of the total inventory. In FY 2007, the Department allocated 12 percent of the funds appropriated to the Department for the Defense Environmental Restoration Programs towards the cleanup of FUDS. The remainder of the funding is provided to Components to cleanup BRAC sites. In accordance with Congressionally mandated statutory requirements, first priority for funding has gone to BRAC sites, while active and FUDS locations are almost equal in relative funding. In determining progress and allocating funding for FUDS, the number and scope of environmental restoration of all FUDS sites must be taken into account, including both Installation Restoration Program (IRP) sites and Military Munitions Response Program (MMRP) sites. The Department is also working diligently to determine the full extent of FUDS MMRP cleanup requirements. FUDS MMRP projects are generally more complex, higher cost projects, and are typically perceived to present a high hazard probability. The actual hazards associated with these sites will not be known until the Department has completed site surveys. The Department's goals for conducting MMRP preliminary assessments (PAs) and site inspections (SIs) are the end of FY 2007 and FY 2010 respectively. When these surveys are completed, they will improve our understanding of the risks associated with MMRP sites and improve our ability to identify and prioritize funding requirements and establish meaningful performance goals with accurate budget links. In 2003, the Department increased FUDS funding by $20 million a year, to fund MMRP site surveys, recognizing that these budget requirements should be revisited once the surveys are completed. In addition, the Department is implementing a number of improvements to the program that will result in more efficient cleanups. Mr. Ortiz. Mr. Beehler, you indicated in your statement the Department has identified over $32 billion worth of environmental cleanup requirements. Yet the Department has elected to request $1.8 billion in funding in fiscal year 2008. Do you believe that the cost to complete environmental cleanup is a good metric? Do you believe that sufficient funding has been requested in the environmental restoration program to reduce existing contamination? Secretary Beehler. The combined $1.8 billion requested for fiscal year (FY) 2008 in the Defense Environmental Restoration and BRAC Accounts is sufficient to fund cleanup requirements identified for that year and to make progress in the lengthy remediation process for existing contamination. The DoD cleanup program cost to complete estimate, currently about $32 billion, is for a cleanup process that can take 12 or more years from identification of a cleanup site to having a remedy in place (RIP) after site characterization, investigation, remedy decision, design, and construction. The RIP milestone can then be followed by a three to 30-year or longer remedial action-operation phase before reaching the cleanup objective for the site. Even after reaching the cleanup objective, cleanup sites may be subject to periodic review and long term management. The cost-to-complete, as a snap shot of the total remaining cost of remediation, is a useful metric in managing the overall DoD cleanup program with 31,000 sites in different stages of the cleanup process. As site level execution occurs, annual funding requirements are developed and become the basis for the Department's annual budget request. Additional annual funding would not appreciably speed up the DoD cleanup program as a whole. Mr. Ortiz. If EPA determines that perchlorate should not be regulated with a national drinking water standard, what effect will that have on DOD's current and future perchlorate cleanup? Secretary Beehler. A Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) is a standard for public drinking water suppliers under the Safe Drinking Water Act. Cleanup actions to address perchlorate releases to the environment are continuing and will continue at DoD sites, with or without a federal MCL. The existence of an MCL will not affect whether a cleanup is conducted. DoD will use the perchlorate reference dose to indicate if a site-specific cleanup is needed. If it is determined that a response action is needed, under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, the cleanup must comply with all requirements that are applicable or relevant and appropriate to the site-specific circumstances. If EPA were to promulgate an MCL for perchlorate, a State or federal MCL, whichever is more stringent, would generally be used as the cleanup level for ground water that may affect a drinking water supply. Mr. Ortiz. What actions is the Department taking to address the risk of inhalation of TCE vapors in air? Secretary Beehler. For worker exposures to Trichloroethylene (TCE) vapors, the Department's policy is to comply with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards in accordance with section 19 of the OSH Act (29 U.S.C. 668) and Executive Order 12196. DoD monitors and controls its worker exposures to TCE to within the OSHA permissible exposure limits. DoD is also assessing and addressing inhalation of TCE vapors as part of its cleanup program. Vapor intrusion is the migration of volatile chemicals from subsurface media into overlying buildings. For DoD cleanups that involve a potential TCE vapor intrusion pathway, TCE exposures are evaluated during the investigation phase, as part of the site-specific human health risk assessment. If the risk assessment indicates that an action is required, a diverse set of measures may be evaluated to address the risk, although ventilation systems are generally placed on buildings themselves to control exposure to permissible levels. DoD is developing guidance on evaluating potential exposures through vapor intrusion and the DoD Components are also developing more specific guidance. For example, the Army issued its interim Vapor Intrusion guidance on November 6, 2006 directing installations to assess and to mitigate unacceptable risks from vapor intrusion into existing buildings. DoD representatives are also working with the Interstate Technology Regulatory Council to develop specific sampling, characterization, and remediation technologies for indoor air. Mr. Ortiz. What efforts has the Air Force taken to monitor potential problems with disease resulting from exposure to harmful chemicals among former civilian employees and military personnel who previously worked at Kelly Air Force Base? What is the Department's approach for addressing contamination that has spread off of DOD installations into adjoining communities? How is this approach being implemented at Kelly Air Force Base? Secretary Beehler. In April 2005, the Air Force Institute for Operational Health (AFIOH) conducted the Case Series Investigation of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Among Former Kelly Air Force Base Workers. The study resulted from concerns over a possible cluster of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) among former workers at Kelly Air Force Base (AFB). In an attempt to gain insight into the occupational, environmental and lifestyle exposure histories of Persons with ALS (PALS), the ALS Association-South Texas Chapter (ALSA-STC) and the AFIOH collaborated on a case series investigation of persons linked to Kelly AFB who reported having ALS. The report concluded: (1) Using reported prevalence figures as a comparison, PALS appeared similar to other ALS cases and the U.S. adult population for ALS disease course, recreational, immunization, infection/trauma, tobacco use, alcohol use, and family medical histories. (2) Historically, these cases may have been more physically active than other ALS case series and U.S. adults overall, perhaps due to a ``healthy worker'' or ``healthy soldier effect.'' (3) The limitations of the study, including the highly heterogeneous population, amount of proxy report, absence of a control group, length of the questionnaire, and use of generalized comparison figures, must be considered when discussing and interpreting the results. The San Antonio Metropolitan Health District, Environmental Health and Wellness Center offers free environmental health assessments to individuals who have ever lived near the former base for at least one year or who have ever worked at the former Kelly AFB. The center refers individuals if additional evaluation(s) are needed. In addition, the Air Force has partnered with the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District, Public Center for Environmental Health to conduct studies relating the community health concerns and the environmental program at the former Kelly AFB. Additionally, individuals who contact the Air Force claiming health effects from past on-the-job exposure are referred to the Department of Labor Federal Employees Compensation division. Using established employment and medical verification, the Department of Labor processes these claims. Mr. Ortiz. Mr. Beehler, can you explain to me the current state of Environmental Management Systems and how the recent Executive Order may change the Department's approach for environmental management? Secretary Beehler. An Environmental Management System (EMS) is a formal framework for integrating environmental issues and considerations into the overall management structure at an installation. When properly implemented, EMS's identify the environmental aspects of the mission, highlight and prioritize areas of risk, promote pollution prevention, and track progress toward environmental goals. DoD has 596 EMS appropriate facilities (506 U.S. and territories, 90 overseas). Implementing EMS overseas is not required by Executive Order (EO) 13423; however, DoD decided to make it a requirement for overseas facilities due to the overall benefits of an integrated management system. An EMS is ``in-place'' at all 506 U.S. facilities and 72 of the overseas facilities. (The term ``in-place'' means that the EMS elements have been developed and the plan-do-check-act cycle is beginning to function). Full EMS implementation in accordance with EO 13423 requirements is expected by Fiscal Year 2009. A DoD-wide work group was formed to oversee the implementation and operation of EMS's across the Department. Its membership includes representatives from the OSD staff, various DoD agencies, and the Military Departments. The EMS work group is refining EMS guidance to emphasize the cross functional nature of the EMS framework, and the inter-relationships outside of the environmental community. For example, EMS implementation and operation is being written into both the Defense Installations Strategic Plan and the AT&L Implementation Plan. In addition, the Military Departments have developed EMS policies and training that emphasize awareness outside of their environmental directorates, as well as the criticality of senior leadership involvement. Together, these efforts are beginning to change how environmental management is perceived--moving from being a restriction on operations to being a mission enabling asset. Many aspects of EO 13423 were already underway by the Department before the EO became official. DoD is moving towards a more sustainability based approach to environmental management by balancing mission, environment, and support activities. The EO will strengthen this relationship and will foster a closer relationship with the energy and transportation communities. These functions have always been related to our environmental programs, but they will now complement and enhance one another. ______ QUESTIONS SUBMITTED BY MRS. MCMORRIS RODGERS Mrs. McMorris Rodgers. A 2002 GAO report (GAO-02-658) indicated that the Army Corps of Engineers had performed insufficient investigations in determining that certain Formerly Used Defense Sites did not require cleanup action. A chief concern of the GAO report was the Corps files did not contain evidence that the presence of hazardous, toxic and radioactive waste was assessed. The Corps determinations covered by the report date back to 1984. One of the subjects of this hearing is trichloroethylene or TCE. Because methods for testing for TCE in the 1980s were inconclusive at best, and the EPA did not adopt a TCE drinking water standard until 1989, does the Department of Defense intend to reassess for this hazardous contaminant as previous determinations are incomplete? Should public confidence in the Corps determinations be increased? If so, why? Secretary Beehler. The referenced GAO report (GAO-02-658) concerned the methodology used to identify potential hazards at Formerly Used Defense Sites (FUDS) based on records, site visits, and the No DoD Action Indicated (NDAI) process. The Department addressed GAO's recommendations in 2002, acknowledging that in some cases, the FUDS project files were not complete or sufficient for an outside agency, such as GAO, to identify the ``paper trail'' leading to all decisions, but maintained that the Corps had amply demonstrated that decisions associated with site evaluation for FUDS eligibility and hazard evaluation were made appropriately and in cooperation with regulatory agencies. The Corps of Engineers subsequently issued new policies for file content and maintenance. In addition, the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) offered to review `no further action' sites if new information about a site became available or at the request of a state or EPA. The GAO report (GAO-02-658) does not mention trichloroethylene or the chemical sampling and analytical methods used for testing for trichloroethylene. The methods for testing for trichloroethylene have changed little since the 1980's, and still use the same technologies and method performance (precision, accuracy, sensitivity, and selectivity) capable of detecting concentrations between 1 to 5 parts per billion. Further, the Superfund Amendment and Reauthorization Act, enacted in 1986, institutionalized the requirements for investigation and remediation of all chemical contamination that could potentially pose a risk to human health or the environment on active installations and Formerly Used Defense Sites. As such, previous NDAI determinations are considered complete unless new information becomes available about the site or site chemicals or if a state or federal regulatory agency requests a review of a previous NDAI site. Mrs. McMorris Rodgers. I would also like you to address your office's working relationship with the Army Corps of Engineers, the Environmental Protection Agency and other related agencies. How do you work with these entities to address environmental concerns in Formerly Used Defense Sites? Is there a review process for past determinations as new environmental concerns emerge? I appreciate the Department's work to address environmental issues resulting from important Department activities, but I hope that some isolated concerns are not neglected as we learn more about environmental hazards and possible connections to the Department of Defense. Secretary Beehler. The Secretary of the Army is designated as the DoD Executive Agent for the Formerly Used Defense Sites (FUDS) program. As such, the Department of Defense develops policy and oversees the FUDS program, the Secretary of the Army manages the program, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) executes environmental restoration activities. With regard to relationships with regulatory agencies, DoD policy requires substantive involvement of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and state regulatory agencies, current and prospective federal land managers, other federal agencies, states, local agencies, and tribes throughout the environmental restoration process. USACE is required to take proactive steps to identify and address issues of concern to all stakeholders, including EPA. Over the past six years, the Department of Defense, the Army, and USACE worked with regulatory agencies to further improve overall coordination on FUDS. Through that effort, USACE developed statewide management action plans with states and EPA to reconcile cleanup priorities and revised policy and guidance to ensure that each phase of FUDS cleanups is coordinated with regulatory officials. In addition, USACE offered to review `no further action' sites if new information about a site became available or at the request of a state or EPA. The 2003 General Accounting Office report, GAO-03-146, ``ENVIRONMENTAL CONTAMINATION: DoD has Taken Steps to Improve Cleanup Coordination at Former Defense Sites, but Clearer Guidance is Needed to Assure Consistency'', recognized USACE efforts, finding that they had improved overall coordination with regulatory agencies. Mrs. McMorris Rodgers. My office has been coordinating with the Army Corps of Engineers for several months regarding a Nike battery site near Fairchild AFB in Spokane, WA. This site was reviewed by the Corps in 1989 but the EPA recently raised concerns about the accuracy of the determination and thoroughness of the investigation. The Corps advised that they would issue a report revisiting in February of this year. The report is still pending and the response from the Corps upon inquiry has been, ``I'm sorry that I have been unable to reply to your message before now. I would like to assure you that we are in the final stages of the final review of the document for release ability. I really do not have any more information to provide at this time.'' I realize that you are not the Corps, but they are not in attendance. This is an important issue that has affected the lives of many people that I represent in Eastern Washington. I would appreciate any insight you could offer as to the reason for the delay. Secretary Beehler. The Corps of Engineers completed the Site Ownership and Operational History (SOOH) report for former Nike Battery 87 near Fairchild AFB, Washington in July 2007. That report was provided to EPA Region 10 and Representative McMorris's staff on July 18, 2007. The Corps of Engineers experienced a delay in completing the report due to additional studies conducted in order to better understand the relationship between the site operational practices and physical characteristics of the former Nike Battery 87, and EPA sampling results. The letter accompanying that report summarized the results of the investigation, and the Army's consequent position regarding the Department's responsibility for contaminants found in the vicinity of former Nike Battery 87. ______ QUESTIONS SUBMITTED BY MR. MCKEON Mr. McKeon. Perchlorate moves faster through groundwater than most contaminants, suggesting that groundwater (which is often drinking water in Southern California) contamination remediation needs to be implemented in the early stages of the site investigation and clean up process. (a) What special requirements will be imposed on DoD to ensure that groundwater supplies will be given a high priority? (b) In the event that drinking water supplies are threatened or contaminated, will DoD make provisions for replacement drinking water until a containment/ abatement plan is implemented? Secretary Beehler. (a) DoD has a published relative risk ranking system that prioritizes response actions at sites according to the widely accepted risk factors of source, pathway, and receptor. Groundwater paths, especially those with human receptors, would typically be ranked high. (b) Where necessary, to prevent unacceptable exposures from DoD contamination, DoD has provided, and will provide, replacement drinking water. Mr. McKeon. The executive branch has been an advocate of a reference dose (a level often used in establishing drinking water standards) concentration for perchlorate ingestion/consumption, which is higher than California and other states. Will DoD be required to use the lower state standards in developing their risk based clean up plans? Secretary Beehler. Based on the preface to the question, there appears to be confusion between a reference dose (risk based health standard) and a drinking water regulation such as a Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) under the Safe Drinking Water Act. It is important that the difference be fully understood. The reference dose is the amount of a contaminant per unit of body weight per day from all sources that over a long period is not expected to cause unhealthful effects. The National Academy of Science and EPA have both indicated that the reference dose of 0.0007 mg/kg/day for perchlorate is protective for humans, including sensitive subpopulations such as pregnant woman and infants. In setting a drinking water regulation, regulators consider a number of other factors including the quality and extent of information and the relative source contribution of the contaminant between food and water. For example, if a regulator determines that there is a need to account for perchlorate intake from food, the final drinking water standard may be adjusted downward proportionately. This explains differences in the reference dose and drinking water standard. It's important to understand that an MCL is applicable to public drinking water suppliers. For cleanup, DoD will use the perchlorate reference dose to indicate if a site-specific cleanup is needed. If it is determined that a response action is needed, under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), the cleanup must comply with all requirements that are applicable or relevant and appropriate to the site-specific circumstances. If a State has promulgated a drinking water standard (i.e., MCL) for perchlorate, that value is likely to be viewed as a ``relevant and appropriate requirement'' and thus the groundwater cleanup level for sites in that State. Applicable or relevant and appropriate requirements are determined on a site-specific basis. ______ QUESTIONS SUBMITTED BY MS. BORDALLO Ms. Bordallo. The military build-up on Guam will cost over $10 billion dollars over a multi-year period; undoubtedly, the build-up on island will raise serious questions about the environmental impact of constructing new facilities for 8,000 Marines and their families. In my opinion, this build-up also affords the Department of Defense an opportunity to ensure that old installations, which may be re-used for the incoming forces, are free from harmful contaminants. According to some reports, there is a $32 billion backlog of identified environmental remediation; can you describe what steps are being taken to identify any environmental remediation that may be needed on Guam? Are there any sites, which for example may be used for housing or for training, that need substantial environmental clean-up and mitigation work? Moreover, has the cost of clean-up and remediation been factored into the overall estimate for the cost of the build-up? Secretary Beehler. The Department of the Navy (DON) is addressing all contaminated sites on its installations through the Defense Environmental Restoration Program. To date, DON has invested over $3 billion to cleanup sites across the department, with emphasis placed on addressing the higher risk sites first. The estimated cost to complete all DON sites is $2.14 billion. There are 112 remediation sites on Guam, of which only 17 require further action. DON has invested just under $190 million investigating and remediating these sites, with a cost to complete the remaining sites of just over $40 million. All remaining sites will have a remedy in place by 2014, which is prior to completion of the build-up construction phase. As the military build-up plans progress, the status and condition of the remaining cleanup sites will be factored into these plans. DON will ensure that all remediation is completed to be protective of human health and the environment to support the build-up, including housing, training, and other operational needs. Ms. Bordallo. Additionally, the Joint Guam Program Office completed its initial scoping meetings a few months ago and has begun to draft the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). Can you describe what steps are being taken to incorporate the lessons learned about emerging contaminants at Department of Defense installations into the EIS for Guam? Secretary Beehler. The Department of the Navy is working closely with the Office of the Secretary of Defense to identify and share lessons learned regarding emerging contaminants. The analyses conducted during an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) do not specifically address emerging contaminants. However, the emerging contaminants lessons learned will be incorporated into the planning, design, material selection, and construction for the build up on Guam. ______ QUESTIONS SUBMITTED BY MR. LOEBSACK Mr. Loebsack. So I just want to ask at the outset, Mr. Beehler, if you have any direct knowledge of the cleanup efforts at the Iowa Army Ammunition Plant. I know there are many facilities around the country, but do you have any specific information on this? Secretary Beehler. In 1941, the Army constructed the Iowa Army Ammunition Plant (IAAP) in Middletown, Iowa to load, assemble and pack various conventional ammunition and fuzing systems. During operations, industrial process wastewater and by-products were disposed at the installation. Department of Defense (DoD) cleanup sites include surface impoundments, former production disposal areas, landfills, and a fire training pit. Soil and groundwater contamination resulted primarily from historic practices of disposal of explosives and heavy metal- containing wastes directly onto the soil. The installation also identified contamination by volatile organic compounds such as trichloroethylene. Perchlorate was detected at one location in 2000, however, follow-on sampling did not confirm its presence. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) placed IAAP on the National Priorities List in August 1990, and in December 1990, the installation and EPA signed a Federal Facilities Agreement (FFA) that identified specific sites and cleanup schedules. DoD cleanup actions taken include treatment and removal of contaminated soil, capping landfill cells, groundwater treatment and connecting local residences to a public water supply. Funding through FY 2006 has been over $95 million. Evaluations related to past use of the property by the Atomic Energy Commission have been conducted and three sites are being addressed under the separate Department of Energy Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial Action Program (FUSRAP). In 2001, DoD added a new category of sites to its Defense Environmental Restoration Program--the military munitions response program (MMRP). In FY 2004, the Army identified MMRP sites at IAAP. Site inspections to evaluate the extent of munitions and level of risk continued through FY 2007. The Army reached agreement with EPA to add these munitions sites to the FFA so that they could be addressed according to the munitions response site prioritization protocol regulation and the risk they present. Groundwater cleanup activities and the MMRP at IAAP are expected to continue to FY 2017 with a remaining cost to complete of more than $20 million. Groundwater treatment system operation will continue beyond 2017. The Army is working with the local community to keep it informed and receive input into the cleanup decision process. In FY 1997 the Army established a Restoration Advisory Board (RAB) which meets regularly. ______ QUESTIONS SUBMITTED BY MR. TAYLOR Mr. Taylor. What have we spent on environmental restoration at bases that have been closed by previous rounds of BRAC to date? Secretary Beehler. Through the end of FY 2006, $9.12 billion has been spent for site level environmental restoration at all BRAC properties, including BRAC 2005 installations. The funding came from the BRAC Accounts and the Defense Environmental Restoration Account. ______ QUESTIONS SUBMITTED BY MR. BISHOP Mr. Bishop. Do you have any kind of ballpark estimate of how sites exist nationwide? How many are going through remediation at the present time? Secretary Beehler. DoD has a number of sites with detectable concentrations of perchlorate. A summary of sampling results was provided in the written statement. Detection does not necessarily mean there is a need to remediate. After sampling and assessing the risks, many of the DoD sites with perchlorate detections have been determined not to require remedial actions. DoD sampling has also demonstrated that, for the most part, contamination was confined to our bases. The Department is taking appropriate actions for perchlorate releases. These actions include sampling, assessing risks to human health, coordinating with regulators and, where necessary, taking remedial actions. The remedial actions are being conducted under the Defense Environmental Restoration Program (DERP) in coordination with regulators. The May 2005 U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report noted that approximately 400 sites had been identified as having perchlorate. That GAO Report on perchlorate noted that 65 percent of the sites containing perchlorate were DoD, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), or defense related activities but did not differentiate among the activities or site owners. The prevalence of DoD sites reported is a manifestation of the fact that DoD has been sampling for perchlorate for about a decade and it is this information that makes up the majority of data available to regulators. Thus, mathematically, DoD and NASA would be expected to comprise a high percentage of the sites sampled. Again, perchlorate detections do not equate with the requirement to remediate. DoD's cleanup database cannot ascertain every site where perchlorate is part of the remediation. This is because perchlorate is often mixed with other more significant contaminants and as such is often assessed and remediated in conjunction with these other contaminants. Nevertheless, we are aware of the following sites with completed or ongoing perchlorate remediation:
Massachusetts Military Reservation (MMR). Removal actions have been completed for contaminated soils. Groundwater contaminated with RDX (Cyclotrimethylene-trinitramine) and perchlorate is being remediated through a groundwater treatment system which is in place and operating. All investigations and actions were fully coordinated with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 1 and the State of Massachusetts. Longhorn Army Ammunition Plant, Texas. A fluidized bed reactor was added to a TCE (Trichloroethylene) groundwater treatment system in 2001 to remove perchlorate from an effluent. There is no groundwater use and actions were taken to protect Caddo Lake (drinking water supply). Soil covers were placed over two soil sites which contained high perchlorate concentrations to prevent runoff into streams. Final Records Of Decisions (RODS) are being developed to address remaining soil contamination through soil removal and disposal. All actions have been fully coordinated with EPA Region 6 and Texas. Naval Weapons Industrial Reserve Plant (NWIRP), McGregor, Texas. At McGregor, the Navy completed a ROD. An in-situ biological treatment system is treating perchlorate in groundwater and soil; this is the first--and world's largest--full-scale bio-wall application for groundwater remediation of perchlorate and volatile organic compounds. Recent groundwater data shows a marked decrease in the amount of perchlorate in groundwater. In fact, last October, the NWIRP McGregor became the very first U.S. Naval facility to receive a Ready for Reuse determination from EPA. This verifies that environmental conditions at the property are protective of human health and the environment for its current and future commercial, industrial and agricultural uses. Former Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC), White Oak, Maryland. NSWC-White Oak has a number of completed RODs. The RODS primarily address other key contaminants, but the treatment systems put in place under the RODs are also addressing perchlorate. All actions have been coordinated with EPA Region 3 and Maryland, and both agencies concurred with the remediation goal for perchlorate. Redstone Arsenal, Alabama. Perchlorate was detected in soil and groundwater. A Remedial Investigation report was completed in July 2005. A Feasibility Study is underway to analyze remedial options. A health risk evaluation was conducted for surface water off-base, which concluded that there was no health risk to recreational users and residents. Sampling showed non-detectable levels in the Tennessee River. Drinking water is supplied by the municipal water system. There is no human consumption of groundwater either on-base or off-base, and thus no threat to human health. The Arsenal is working closely with EPA and the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM). Vandenberg Air Force Base (AFB), California. Perchlorate was detected in groundwater, but drinking water supplies have not been affected. The Air Force initiated a pilot treatment process that uses injections of lactate and a dechlorinating agent to groundwater. The pilot study was successful, and both TCE and perchlorate were removed to non-detectable levels in one month. Planning is underway to scale up the pilot treatment process to complete TCE and perchlorate removal at this site. Edwards AFB, California. Perchlorate was detected in soil and groundwater. Drinking water supplies have not been affected. In May 2003, Edwards AFB implemented a pilot project/treatability study to evaluate the effectiveness of using ion-exchange technology for removing perchlorate from groundwater. As of January 2007, the system has treated 32.1 million gallons and removed 133.7 pounds of perchlorate from the groundwater. This pilot treatment system continues to operate. Also, a treatability study that examined the effectiveness of flushing to remove perchlorate from soil at Edwards AFB demonstrated almost complete removal of perchlorate from the soil column.