Ranking Members Raskin and Bush Issue Statements on Alarming New GAO Report on Manhattan Project Radioactive Waste Still Affecting St. Louis

Oct 17, 2023
Press Release
Findings Confirm that Dangerous Nuclear Waste Disproportionately Affects St. Louis

Washington, D.C. (October 17, 2023)—Today, Rep. Jamie Raskin, Ranking Member of the Committee on Oversight and Accountability, and Rep. Cori Bush, Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Energy Policy, and Regulatory Affairs, issued the following statements after the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report highlighting its recommendations to improve the Army Corps of Engineers (Army Corps) remediation efforts in communities that have long been ignored.

 

“Decades after the federal government generated large amounts of toxic nuclear waste as a result of nuclear weapons production, America’s most underserved communities still bear the brunt of deadly contamination from one of the most significant environmental disasters in our nation’s history.  The Manhattan Project’s nuclear contamination sites include schools, community recreation sites, and airports, and more than 40% are near low-income and minority communities.  The decades long delay in remediation is unconscionable.  The findings of today’s GAO report are not a surprise to the residents of St. Louis who have been asking for help for decades.  These findings must immediately catalyze remediation efforts to cleanup and decontaminate these neighborhoods in underserved communities—and incorporate the voices of those living on the frontline of this nuclear contamination,” said Ranking Member Raskin.

 

“Since even before being elected to office, I have been committed to working with residents to clean up the life-threatening Manhattan Project Waste in St. Louis, and I have been committed to continuing this work every day since,” said Subcommittee Ranking Member Bush.  “I’m proud to have partnered with former House Oversight Committee Chairwoman Maloney and now Ranking Member Raskin to request this federal review of nuclear contamination in and around our communities.  I will continue to fight to hold the relevant agencies accountable and won’t stop until this waste is cleaned up for good and individuals harmed by it are rightfully compensated.” 

 

Key Findings

 

  • GAO found that eight of the nineteen contaminated Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial Action Program (FUSRAP) sites are near underserved communities, which can face barriers in accessing federal service because of race, ethnicity, poverty status, or other factors.

 

  • GAO also found that of those eight sites near underserved communities, six of the communities had higher rates of racial or ethnic populations, including the two sites in Ranking Member Bush’s district in St. Louis, MO. 

 

  • GAO noted that the Army Corps named FUSRAP as one of their programs to participate in the Biden-Harris Administration’s Justice40 Initiative, which seeks to ensure 40% of benefits from federal investments flow to underserved communities like those living near nuclear contamination sites.

 

  • GAO recommended that the Army Corps improve community outreach and improve its communication with stakeholders such as tribal, state, and local government officials and community leaders.  GAO explained that communication would help build trust between the Army Corps and the affected nearby communities.  This outreach includes improving readability of information, using a variety of formats for communications and meetings, and reaching beyond property owners.

 

  • In addition to these findings, GAO’s report shows that FUSRAP’s estimated liability costs have increased 63% since fiscal year 2016, and that half of these cost increases can be attributed to uncertainty surrounding amounts of contamination at each site, incomplete cost estimates at some sites, and a lack of physical and legal access to some sites.

 

Background

 

On July 21, 2021, Ranking Member Bush and then-Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney requested GAO review the Army Corps’ FUSRAP environmental liability reporting and remediation efforts, resulting in today’s report.

 

Click here to read today’s report.

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118th Congress