June 23 (UPI) -- The Defense Department's effort to rid installations of hazardous chemicals will cost more than budgeted for, a Government Accountability Office report says.
The 45-page report notes that although the Defense Department is investigating per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, and responding to contamination, it should better report cost information to Congress.
Future cleanup costs will total at least $2.1 billion, and by some estimates significantly more, but the estimates have not yet been reported to Congress.
PFAS are among toxic "forever chemicals" found in firefighting foam and other products.
The Defense Department has begun addressing PFAS-contaminated drinking water at 698 military installations, in use or abandoned, and has assessed about 129.
Sixty-six of those assessed "are proceeding to the remedial investigation and feasibility study," Richard Kidd, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for environment and energy resilience, told the House Appropriations subcommittee on June 3.
The GAO report said the effort will "likely increase significantly" beyond the amount already estimated.
In testimony, Kidd estimated the total cost for cleanup at over $29 billion.
"The GAO report confirms two key points: that the DoD has made little progress cleaning up legacy PFAS pollution and that the cost of cleanup is going to grow," commented Scott Faber of the non-government organization Environmental Working Group.
"Congress should move quickly to set deadlines for cleanup and to provide the DoD the resources needed to get the job done," Faber said.