DOD watchdog will review military use of cancer-linked chemical

DOD watchdog will review military use of cancer-linked chemical
© Greg Nash

The Pentagon’s internal watchdog will review the military’s response to a cancer-linked chemical spread in part by its use of firefighting foam.

A class of chemicals abbreviated as PFAS has contaminated water in at least 425 military sites, pushing Department of Defense (DOD) Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperOvernight Defense: Stopgap spending measure awaits Senate vote | Trump nominates former Nunes aide for intelligence community watchdog | Trump extends ban on racial discrimination training to contractors, military Overnight Defense: Pentagon redirects pandemic funding to defense contractors | US planning for full Afghanistan withdrawal by May | Anti-Trump GOP group puts ads in military papers Official: Pentagon has started 'prudent planning' for full Afghanistan withdrawal by May MORE to take action on his first day in office and start a task force to address the substance.

The review from the DOD’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) is a response to a request spearheaded Rep. Dan KildeeDaniel (Dan) Timothy KildeeLawmakers fear voter backlash over failure to reach COVID-19 relief deal Democrats set to hold out for big police reform More than 100 Democrats press Trump to extend jobless benefits MORE (D-Mich.) that asks how long the DOD has known PFAS was harmful to human health, how the military will address cleaning up the substance, and how it will take care of service members and communities harmed by PFAS.

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“Simply, it appears the scope of the problem far outweighs the allocated resources and focus of the DOD,” lawmakers wrote in their July request.

Lawmakers have undertaken numerous efforts to push the military to take greater steps to address PFAS, including measures in the defense policy act that required the military to end its use of PFAS-laden firefighting foam.

OIG’s decision to review the military’s response could be something of a road map for the DOD but also for lawmakers eager to make sure funds allocated for cleanup are being used effectively.

The agency’s own PFAS task force, however, is also expected to release its findings shortly.

The military’s financial liability on PFAS is already expected to exceed its original $2 billion estimate. 

The DOD did not respond to request for comment.