U.S. Senator Kay R. Hagan (NC) today voiced her support for Government Accountability Office (GAO) recommendations to strengthen responses to environmental exposures at military installations. Yesterday, the GAO released the report titled DOD Can Improve Its Response to Environmental Exposures on Military Installations, which recommends measures for the Department of Defense to improve identification of and responses to environmental exposures.
"I support the GAO recommendations to strengthen responses to environmental exposures at our military installations," said Hagan. "It is absolutely necessary that our military provide effective, safe, and environmentally sound living and work spaces for our service members. Improved military responses would help protect our service members from environmental contaminants and help ensure that our military families are never again left struggling with the health repercussions that we have seen following water contaminations at Camp Lejeune."
The GAO report outlines the following three recommendations:
· Establish procedures to track and document the status and nature of DOD responses to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) recommendations and findings of significant risk.
· Establish a policy that identifies when installations should consider requesting public health assessments in addition to the initial assessments at National Priorities List sites.
· Provide guidance on what actions, if any, DOD should take to identify and address possible health risks faced by individuals from past exposures at military installations.
Together, Senators Hagan and Richard Burr (NC) included key provisions in the FY2011 Defense Authorization bill requiring the Navy and Marine Corps to provide ATSDR a complete picture of all relevant Lejeune water contamination documents. This coordination was absolutely necessary to help ATSDR complete their studies, and provide an accurate picture of the contaminants that were present in Camp Lejeune's water supply.
Since coming to the Senate, Hagan has made it a priority to help provide closure to former Lejeune families. Hagan, along with Senator Burr, is a cosponsor of the Caring for Camp Lejeune Veterans Act (S. 277) that would open access to VA health care for veterans and their family members who developed health problems after exposure to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune.