Congress Asked to Defend Community Participation in Military Cleanups

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Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger (CSWAB) has submitted a formal request to U.S. Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin and U.S. Senator Herb Kohl asking for an independent U.S. Government Accountability Office review of Department of Defense compliance with federal rules that allow communities and workers to participate in decisions that affect public health and the environment.

As part of a federal program to encourage public participation in the cleanup of contaminated U.S. military sites, Restoration Advisory Boards (RABs) have been established in more than 300 communities nationwide.  CSWAB is concerned that Army actions at the Badger Army Ammunition Plant may set a negative precedent for other affected communities.

Badger officials recently announced that the Army intends to reorganize the local RAB – a process that is not mentioned anywhere in the RAB rule (32 CFR Part 202) and is expected to require that all seated members of the local board re-apply for a limited number of seats on a newly formed RAB.

“Because there is nothing in the federal RAB rule concerning reorganizing RABs (requiring seated members to re-apply for a position on a brand new RAB), we believe that the Army’s conduct is inconsistent with this rule,” CSWAB’s August 3 letter says.  “For this reason, Army actions here in Wisconsin set a negative precedent not only for our community but for the RAB program nationwide.”

The RAB at Badger Army Ammunition Plant has been operating successfully for almost 20 years. Members include representatives of local town, village, county and tribal government, CSWAB and residents who live near Badger.

“In accordance with the RAB rule, we believe that current Badger RAB members should be able to retain their seats on the existing board and that all members of the RAB (including Army) should encourage and invite applications for new members to improve the diversity of the board,” CSWAB’s letter concluded.  “Both the RAB rule and handbook encourage the addition of new members to improve the diversity and representation of the board – a policy that we heartily support.”

CSWAB Letter to Kohl and Baldwin August 2012

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