Federal investigators arrive today

BY Mike Gallagher
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Investigators for the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) are in Greater Cincinnati today to begin their probe of financial mismanagement and safety problems at Fernald.

The team, headed by Victor S. Rezendes, director of GAO's Energy and Science Issues Division, will tour the 1,050-acre former uranium-processing plant today.

Investigators will then begin interviewing U.S. Department of Energy personnel, current and past officials and employees of Fernald Environmental Restoration Management Co. (FERMCO), the company hired to manage the site.

They will also interview Fernald union workers, contractors, subcontractors and consultants.

The GAO team is made up of experts in accounting, nuclear safety and Energy Department rules and regulations, Mr. Rezendes said.

The investigation was requested by U.S. Reps. Rob Portman and Steve Chabot, both R-Cincinnati, and later by U.S. Sens. Mike DeWine, R-Ohio, and John Glenn, D-Ohio.

Their call for an investigation came after The Enquirerbegan a series of reports Feb. 11, revealing that the cleanup by FERMCO has been marred by unauthorized spending, misuse of charge accounts, phony cost and performance reports, excessive travel expenses, questionable severance packages for private employees and workplace safety concerns.

Published March 25, 1996.