Federal Manager's Daily Report

The buildings that now comprise the Goodfellow Federal Center were built in 1941 by the Department of Defense and were functioned as an Army ammunition plant to support World War II. During the war, about 16,000 employees worked at the complex manufacturing .30- and .50-caliber ammunition. On July 1, 1966, the Army transferred ownership and operation complex to GSA, and GSA then renovated the campus into a suburban office park. (Source: GSA.gov)

An investigation spurred by a whistleblower disclosure to the Office of Special Counsel has confirmed that the GSA failed to act on known hazards at the Goodfellow Federal Center in St. Louis, the OSC has said.

Acting on a referral from the OSC, the HHS occupational health program concluded that conditions existed over 2002-2015 that constituted a “substantial and specific danger to public/employee health from environmental contamination” from including asbestos, lead, mercury, radon, arsenic, and other toxic materials.

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“Over that period, Goodfellow/Region 6 management exhibited a pattern of ignoring numerous federal regulations, allowing unnecessary, continued and ongoing exposures to employees, tenants and contractors and failed to allocate the resources required to correct site deficiencies. Furthermore, over that period of time, Region 6 leadership did not take responsibility nor were they held accountable for these failures,” the report said.

The report added that while “little documentation could be found pointing to actual adverse consequences resulting from these failures such as harmful health effects” on those in the facility—including those in the childcare center—such effects “may have long latency periods, or have resulted in health effects that were not, at the time, known to be work-related.”

Said the OSC, “Despite these findings, the agency determined that it lacked evidence to recommend disciplinary action for specific individuals and focused its recommendations on ensuring current staff have the resources and responsibility to mitigate future hazards. Those recommendations included development of a training course for all employees in facilities management and performance plans regarding proper abatement of hazards. In addition, the agency stated that it is in the process of closing the Goodfellow facility and expects to relocate most tenants by the end of 2022.”

“I would like to thank the whistleblower for their courage in revealing widespread environmental contamination and years of exposure to hazardous materials,” Special Counsel Henry Kerner said in a statement. “Officials had been aware of these conditions but downplayed the risk, discounting expert guidance and advice, rather than taking appropriate corrective action. While I applaud the agency’s actions to close the Goodfellow complex, I strongly encourage the agency to ensure that employees, tenants, and contractors receive appropriate medical screening and care.”

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