Casey Calls for GAO Investigation Into Handling of Armstrong County Nuclear Site

Citing ‘Delays and Setbacks’ Senator Says GAO Oversight Is Needed

Washington DC- Today, U.S. Senator Bob Casey announced that he has called for a Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigation into the federal government’s handling of the Shallow Land Disposal Area (SLDA) in Armstrong County. Citing numerous delays and setbacks that have hampered the cleanup of the site, Senator Casey said GAO oversight is needed.

“I’m hopeful GAO will review what each agency has done with the SLDA and make recommendations to speed up cleanup,” Senator Casey said. “The remediation of the SLDA site has taken too long and the community is owed answers about what’s been done and how a cleanup can move forward in a faster timeframe.”

Senator Casey has consistently pressed the federal government to quicken the pace of the cleanup and has also urged the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) Inspector General to look into the NRC’s role in the cleanup.

The full text of Senator Casey’s letter to the GAO can be seen below:

January 9, 2013

The Honorable Gene L. Dordaro

Comptroller General

U.S. Government Accountability Office

441 G Street NW

Washington, D.C. 20548

Dear Mr. Dordaro:

I write to formally request that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) commission a study on the Federal government’s handling of the Shallow Land Disposal Area (SLDA) remediation project in Armstrong County, Pennsylvania.  The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), under the Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial Action Program (FUSRAP), is currently in charge of the site with cooperation from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and other Federal partners.

Numerous delays and setbacks have marked this project, the most recent being in September 2011 when the Pittsburgh District of USACE determined that a project contractor mishandled hazardous material.  At the same time, the Corps also encountered higher quantities of complex nuclear material at the site than originally expected.  These troubling developments led to the Army’s reevaluation of all Federal agencies’ involvement with the project to date.  Ultimately, it was determined that USACE will continue to lead the project but the cleanup has yet to resume.

I believe a study is necessary to make sure all Federal agencies involved in the project have acted properly, thoroughly and cooperatively, as well as whether the appropriate agencies are complying with a memorandum of understanding for the project.  The study should address the gaps in knowledge about the materials on the site and whether Federal agencies properly assessed the ongoing remediation activities.  Further, the study should examine the handling of nuclear material and if there were any regulatory omissions or oversight deficiencies.  In addition, I request that the GAO investigate whether residents’ health and safety is at risk due to the repeated delays of the cleanup.  The remediation of this site remains a great concern to me and my constituents and I believe this study will help address outstanding questions and concerns.

Thank you for your consideration of my request.

Sincerely,

Robert P. Casey, Jr.

United States Senator

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