Report confirms Enquirer articles

The Cincinnati Enquirer

The Energy Department's Office of Inspector General's report is the most recent finding by Ohio and federal agencies that substantiates Enquirer articles about financial mismanagement and safety problems at Fernald.

The Ohio EPA found FERMCO was missing about 140 inspection records for nuclear and toxic waste projects at the site since July 1995, as reported in a March 24 Enquirer article.

FERMCO and the Energy Department's Fernald staff confirmed a March 4 Enquirer report that scores of barrels filled with radioactive and toxic wastes had sprung leaks and were not immediately removed for repacking.

A special Energy Department investigative team found the FERMCO pilot vitrification plant project was riddled with design, schedule and construction problems that would substantially escalate the project's multimillion-dollar costs, as reported in a March 3 Enquirer article. On May 16, FERMCO and the Energy Department confirmed the cost of the problem-plagued pilot plant would increase a second time, totaling an estimated $56 million, resulting in a jump of $14 million. The project was originally estimated at $14.4 million. They also confirmed that the plant won't be complete until 1998, another six-month delay.

The Energy Department found that FERMCO had opened unauthorized control and charge accounts in violation of the department's rules, confirming a Feb. 11 Enquirer report.

The Energy Department's Ohio field office confirmed that FERMCO failed to change an overblown, $5.5 million subcontracting cost estimate for a Plant 7 project even after an actual contract for $1.8 million was obtained. That resulted in false reports to the government, as reported in a Feb. 11 Enquirer article.

Investigators for the Energy Department's Ohio field office verified a Feb. 11 Enquirer report that said FERMCO, in April 1994, had modified a computer software system that resulted in erroneous cost and scheduling data being provided to the department.

Published May 19, 1996.