Washington, D.C. — Today, Representative Julia Brownley (D-Westlake Village), a member of the Science, Space, and Technology Committee, offered an amendment to the NASA Authorization Act of 2013 which would authorize funding for environmental cleanup and restoration at NASA sites across the U.S.

“Communities near the Santa Susana Field Laboratory and others across the country should not be forced to wait another minute for these contaminated NASA sites to be cleaned up,” said Congresswoman Brownley.  “The families and children whose health and safety have suffered from the effects of these past mistakes is appalling and we should do everything we can to remove this contaminated soil and groundwater immediately.”

The current NASA Authorization Act of 2013 would authorize only $45 million for NASA’s Environmental Compliance and Restoration program. This is far less than the $75.5 million that is needed to meet NASA’s clean-up commitments in states across the nation, including California. Inadequate funding of the program may cause NASA to fail to meet agreed-upon compliance deadlines. This will increase long-term costs of clean-up, and force American taxpayers to foot the bill for non-compliance fines.

Brownley’s amendment will authorize full funding for NASA’s Environmental Compliance and Restoration program. This will ensure the Agency continues the vital environmental restoration projects that improve environmental and public health.

See the full remarks delivered by Congresswoman Brownley on her amendment below.

/ / /

Mr. Chairman, today, I offer a simple amendment to restore funding to NASA’s Environmental Compliance and Restoration program.  Specifically, my amendment increases funding from $45 million to $75.5 million dollars, which is the level requested by the Administration.

NASA’s Environmental Compliance and Restoration program is responsible for cleaning up hazardous materials and waste that have been released at the surface or have seeped into the groundwater at NASA installations, NASA-owned industrial plants supporting NASA activities, sites where NASA operations have contributed to environmental problems, and other locations where the Agency is legally obligated to address hazardous pollutants.

The program is charged with protecting human health and preserving natural resources for future NASA missions. Environmental Compliance and Restoration program activities include clean-up projects, assessments, investigations, sampling, construction, related engineering, program support, monitoring, and regulatory Agency oversight. 

Cleaning-up the soil and groundwater contamination at sites across the country is our responsibility to our constituents whose health and safety have suffered from the effects of these past mistakes.  Communities across the country should not be forced to wait even longer for clean-up.

According to NASA’s 2014 budget request, key planned projects include the following:

Investigation and cleanup of contaminated groundwater, soils, and demolition at Santa Susana Field Laboratory in accordance with the consent order with the State of California.  Toxic material from a partial nuclear meltdown at this former rocket-testing site in 1959 still has not been cleaned-up, in spite of dangerous levels of known carcinogens.

It also includes clean-up of contaminated groundwater emanating from Jet Propulsion Laboratory;

Continued investigation and cleanup of groundwater and soil contamination at Kennedy Space Center in accordance with State of Florida requirements;

Continued cleanup of ground water contamination and investigation of soil contamination at White Sands Test Facility, to comply with the facility permit issued by the State of New Mexico; and

Cleanup of the peninsula solid waste disposal site at the Ames Research Center.

Mr. Chairman, many of NASA’s planned environmental compliance and restoration activities resulted from painstaking negotiations between NASA and several states.

A further delayed federal response could jeopardize these carefully negotiated agreements and end up costing the federal government more money down the road.

My amendment ensures that NASA has the funding to keep in good faith with its legal obligations to states. 

According to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, the $23.9 million sequester

impact to this program will likely result in numerous delays to projects.  If we fail to provide adequate funding and force NASA to renegotiate agreed-upon compliance dates, American taxpayers will end up footing the bill for non-compliance fines.

NASA has an obligation to keep its word, and our Committee has an obligation to ensure the funding is there so that NASA clean ups across the United States can continue, on schedule.

Many of the sites that depend on this funding are in our Congressional districts and directly impact the health and well-being of our constituents. 

I urge my colleagues to support my amendment and restore needed funding to NASA’s Environmental Compliance and Restoration Program.

Issues: ,