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Agency says US is slow on military site cleanup

WASHINGTON — A Congressional report says poor progress is being made in the cleanup of various contaminated former military bases across the country.

The Environment News Service said the General Accounting Office (GAO), an investigative arm of Congress, spent a year investigating the cleanup of former military sites, called Formerly Utilized Defense Sites (FUDS).

The Army Corp of Engineers is charged with the cleanup, at a cost of about $200 million per year. The intent was to get the sites cleanup up by 2014, the news service said, but the GAO report says the corps is falling decades short of that goal.

The report stated that almost 4,500 individual cleanup projects were addressed in connection with the FUDS, and 2,382 of those said to be complete. But more than half of that "complete" number were closed without any actual cleanup being done.

GAO has asked for the list to be clarified more, so that it can get a better handle on the situation.

The news service reported that the cost could rise from the Army Corps of Engineers' estimate of $132 billion, to a figure more like $18 billion, because the estimate did not take into account the cleanup of "unexploded ordinance" at many sites.

The news service reported that Rep. John Dingell, D-MI, said much of the cleanup work already done was in areas that had the least degree of difficulty and of lesser contamination risk. He said work needs to be done soon on seriously contaminated sites before they become serious threats to public safety.

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