Oversight Ranking Members Bush, Raskin Issue Statements on Alarming New GAO Report on Manhattan Project Radioactive Waste Still Affecting St. Louis
Findings Confirm that Dangerous Nuclear Waste Disproportionately Affects St. Louis
Read Here: Bush says “report validates concerns people have been raising for years,” and “the Corps must heed their recommendations without delay” (Missouri Independent)
Washington D.C. (Oct. 18, 2023) — Yesterday, Congresswoman Cori Bush (MO-01), Ranking Member of the Oversight Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Energy Policy, and Regulatory Affairs, and Congressman Jamie Raskin(MD-08), Ranking Member of the Committee on Oversight and Accountability, 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.
“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.”
“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.
A copy of the full report can be found HERE.
The main findings from this report include:
- 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.
On July 21, 2021, Congresswoman 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.
Congresswoman Bush is working with advocates and lawmakers to bring forward more legislative solutions, including leveraging her position as the Ranking Member of the Oversight Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Energy Policy, and Regulatory Affairs to seek solutions, accountability, and redress for residents impacted by radioactive waste in St. Louis. Examples of some legislative actions that Congresswoman Bush has put forward, include:
- This August, Congresswoman Bush met one-on-one with Department of Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm at the Weldon Spring Site Interpretative Center to discuss radioactive waste across St. Louis left decades ago by the Manhattan Project.
- In April 2023, Congresswoman Bush partnered with Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) to introduce the bipartisan, bicameral Justice for Jana Elementary Act of 2023, which would require the cleanup of Jana Elementary School in Florissant, Missouri, located in the Congresswoman’s district.
- In May 2022, Congresswoman Bush introduced the Coldwater Creek Signage Act, which would require signage to be posted along Coldwater Creek informing residents of the dangers of radioactive waste exposure.
- In July 2021, Congresswoman Bush passed an amendment to H.R. 3684 – the INVEST in America Act. The amendment would require the EPA Administrator to undertake a review of current and ongoing efforts to remediate radiological contamination at Coldwater Creek and to post public signage to prevent exposure risks for residents in the surrounding areas. The Congresswoman worked with activists, community members, and organizations, including Just Moms STL, to introduce the amendment.