Senators Call for Boosted Funding to Decontaminate Lead-Tainted National Guard Armories In addition to their National Guard uses, these armories and readiness centers are often used by the community for events such as job fairs and are rented out for weddings, baby showers.......
PoliticalNews.me - Apr 19,2017 - Senators Call for Boosted Funding to Decontaminate Lead-Tainted National Guard Armories and Readiness Centers
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon’s Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden led a group of ten Senators calling on Senate Appropriations Committee leaders to dedicate adequate funding to cleaning up National Guard sites across the U.S. that have been contaminated by dangerous amounts of lead dust.
In addition to their National Guard uses, these armories and readiness centers are often used by the community for events such as job fairs and are rented out for weddings, baby showers, baptisms and more.
In December 2016, The Oregonian published a series of investigative articles exposing serious lead dust contamination in more than 400 National Guard armories in 41 states, and there is evidence that the problem may be even more widespread.
Shortly after the articles were published, the National Guard Bureau ordered the immediate closure of all indoor firing ranges and the discontinuation of community events in toxic spaces until they have been properly decontaminated. However, the Senators noted in their letter, the Bureau has not yet clarified how federal funding will be allocated for these initiatives.
“There are indications that ultimately, state Adjutants General will be asked to divert existing federal funds for cleanup efforts,” the Senators wrote in a letter to the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee Chair and Vice-Chair. “For example, the Oregon and Wisconsin National Guards, which have taken aggressive steps to mitigate lead dust exposure and put safety measures in place, have already exhausted their relevant FY17 federal funds and continue to pay out of pocket for remediation. Scarce local readiness funding will only help manage the problem—not solve it. Indeed, state Guards do not have the money to cover the costs of ideal lead abatement options like permanent remediation and encapsulation, which would total an estimated $4.8 million in Wisconsin alone.”
The Senators also noted that the longer these sites are contaminated and unfit for public use, the longer states will have to forgo rental income that helps them cover their share of state-federal cost-sharing agreements for operating and maintaining National Guard sites.
“We urge you to provide adequate funding to support the success of state Adjutants General as they work to remove this threat to the health of our citizen soldiers, their families, and the general public from National Guard armories associated with indoor firing ranges,” the Senators concluded.
In addition to Merkley and Wyden, the letter was signed by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Jon Tester (D-MT), Al Franken (D-MN), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Gary Peters (D-MI), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Kamala Harris (D-CA).
The full text of the letter follows below.
Dear Chairman Cochran and Vice Chairman Durbin:
As the Senate Appropriations Committee considers the Fiscal Year 2018 Department of Defense Appropriations bill, we write to request adequate funding for the National Guard Bureau’s efforts to remediate lead contamination in Army National Guard armories and readiness centers in several states across the country.
National Guard armories across our nation