Health and Safety:

Environmental Oversight of Classified Federal Research

T-RCED-96-99: Published: Mar 12, 1996. Publicly Released: Mar 12, 1996.

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GAO discussed its review of the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) capability to conduct environmental oversight of classified federal research. GAO noted that: (1) EPA conducts limited oversight of classified federal research, primarily relying on agencies' internal environmental monitoring programs; (2) although agencies are required to submit environmental impact statements (EIS) to EPA for review, EPA does not ensure that agencies submit all EIS or know the liaisons for some agencies' environmental issues; (3) environmental compliance officials within agencies may not be reviewing all classified research activities; (4) EPA conducts environmental enforcement activities at known classified federal facilities when the agencies cooperate, but it does not have a complete inventory of all facilities and is sometimes hindered by secrecy and need-to-know considerations; (6) while it is possible that federal agencies have secretly sought exemptions from environmental requirements, it appears that they have rarely sought such exemptions; and (7) agencies have occasionally sought special emergency arrangements concerning environmental standards because of national security concerns.

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