Watchdog finds new TVs, unused furniture at filthy EPA warehouse

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Maryland warehouse is plagued by "deplorable conditions" while operating as a storage unit for unopened appliances, surplus gym equipment and never-used furniture, according to an inspector general report.

Among the items spotted by the EPA's internal watchdog’s at the Landover, Md., warehouse: Several unauthorized workspaces, replete with personal videos, TVs, clothing and magazines; a makeshift gym pieced together with leftover equipment; untouched furniture received in 2008; appliances received in 2007 that were still in the original packaging; personal documents, such as passports; and “corrosion, vermin feces, mold and other problems.”

“As a result of the conditions noted, EPA property at the warehouse was vulnerable to theft and abuse (including personally identifiable information), EPA property was not properly maintained, the EPA may not have received sufficient value for the funds it paid for the warehouse’s operation, and warehouse workers were subjected to unsafe conditions for which the EPA could be held liable,” the inspector general said in its report.

The warehouse was operated by Apex Logistics LCC, a private contractor. The EPA has issued a stop-work order for the firm.

The internal watchdog said the EPA has responded appropriately since first being informed of the facility's conditions on May 16.

“We are encouraged by the speed and depth of the actions taken by the agency to address the conditions at the warehouse,” the report said.

Acting EPA Administrator Bob Perciasepe detailed the agency’s actions since first being informed of the situation.

“The EPA is committed to addressing the previous conditions at the warehouse and implementing institutional protections to ensure those conditions do not recur at this facility or any other used by the agency,” Perciasepe said in a letter attached to the inspector general’s report.

The EPA has since conducted an inventory at the warehouse and is in the process of getting the contents appraised. It has also “identified and segregated all surplus furniture,” reviewed background checks on the warehouse’s workers and is revamping its safety and security plan for the facility.

The EPA also has committed to completing a list of standard operating procedures for warehouses, conducting an agency-wide review of warehouse operations and developing internal and external security measures, the inspector general report said.