A government audit says Bannister officials wrongly withheld a
document on toxic contamination from its response to an NBC Action
News Freedom of Information Act request.
The missing January 7, 2005 letter from the Missouri Department
of Natural Resources to General Services Administration is critical
of the GSA’s investigation into trichloroethylene (TCE) near
the complex’s day care.
“While the impact of this letter is not fully known at
this time, it nevertheless should have been produced to comply with
FOIA requirements,” wrote Regional Inspector John Walsh with
the GSA’s Office of Inspector General in his report.
Shortly after Walsh released his report, GSA officials obtained
the missing eleven page document and released it to NBC Action
“We apologize that such an oversight occurred,” said
Regional Administrator Jason Klumb in a statement. “GSA will
take the necessary corrective actions to help prevent a similar
occurrence in the future.”
Klumb has called for a review of the agency’s Freedom of
Information Act process.
An agency spokeswoman estimated the GSA had provided NBC Action
News 31,000 pages of documents in response to our original FOIA
The Office of Inspector General also provided copies of the
report to congressional offices in Washington.
“We expect all of our Federal agencies to be responsive to
FOIA requests,” said Congressman Emanuel Cleaver. “I
will be speaking with the administrator about this issue and will
ask him to explain how and why this letter was not produced as a
result of a lawful request.”
“Senator Bond feels strongly that the GSA should be
complying fully with all FOIA requests and looks forward to the
Inspector General’s full report,” said Jordan Clothier
in the office of Sen. Kit Bond.
The report that was withheld identifies multiple failures
identified by Missouri officials in the way the GSA was reporting
on and controlling toxins.
“As you will see from the review, we fear the GSA is not
taking the correct approach to investigate and remediate this
site,” wrote MoDNR Environmental Engineer Scott Honig.
Honig also criticized GSA conclusions that suggested
contamination levels were decreasing.
“There is no basis for this conclusion and it is not
backed up with data from the DOE (U.S. Dept. of Energy),”
Honig wrote. “Please provide data for this conclusion or
In the missing document, the MoDNR official criticized existing
GSA safety plans and encouraged GSA officials to create a stronger
plan to identify health concerns.
“The risk management plan will identify activities to be
implemented to protect human health and the environment,”
Honig wrote. “The current document provides no plan for
source removal, no information on operational time frames for a
pump and treat system, or a plan for institutional controls or