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Executive Summary The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has important and challenging tasks in the areas of building protection and decontamination. The EPA initiated its Safe Buildings Program as a comprehen- sive response to a chemical or biological attack on a civilian or public sector facility. The Safe Buildings Research Implementation Plan (RIP) was devised to guide EPA research and demonstrates efforts in this area over the course of three years ending in fiscal year 2005. The Research Implementation Plan has four research foci: detection, containment, decontamination, and disposal. · The detection research focuses on research areas that deal with real-time detection and "detect-to- treat" types of detection of biological and chemi- cal agents in the event of an attack. · The containment research focus is on the devel- opment and testing of methods to prevent the spread of contaminants within buildings in order to protect building occupants, first responders, and decontamination crews. The overall objective is to reduce or eliminate the impact of a chemical or biological attack on building occupants as well as to provide techniques and guidance to deter- mine the efficacy of chemical and biological pro- tection measures for new and existing buildings. 1 · The decontamination research area focuses on providing the tools, techniques, technologies, and guidance needed to decontaminate a building sub- sequent to a chemical or biological attack. · The final research area, disposal, aims to provide guidance for disposal of materials contaminated by chemical and biological agents or materials that have been contaminated as a result of the decontamination efforts. At the request of the EPA, the National Research Council formed a committee to provide a review of the Research Implementation Plan of the National Home- land Security Research Center's Safe Buildings Pro- gram. The committee met twice (May 13-14, 2003, and July 10, 2003) to learn about the program's context, goals, and content through presentations and discus- sions and to review the Research Implementation Plan end associated background materiels. Committee-only sessions were held at both meetings to begin the review task and to provide an opportunity for committee mem- bers to discuss and refine the review comments and concerns. As it began addressing the Statement of Task (Appendix A), the committee found that some of the questions were not really appropriate due to the relative newness of the Safe Buildings Program and the RIP. Specifically, the committee found that overarching
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2 issues were the three-year time frame and the amount of work EPA has proposed to accomplish. Rather than perform a detailed review of every proposal in the RIP, the committee felt it was more important to provide EPA with key areas that it can impact during the remaining time in the program by establishing a prioritization of the four major program areas. For similar reasons it was not useful to discuss sequencing of the projects, as a three-year time frame does not allow for programs beyond the short-term to be addressed by EPA. However, recommendations for establishing a longer-term project are mentioned in the report. Given the committee's determinations in regards to handling the questions in the Statement of Task, it seemed unnecessary to comment on the pre- sentation and structure of the RIP. The overarching findings and recommendations of the committee are presented below. EPA has correctly identified the major research areas essential for the Safe Buildings Program. The primary areas of research associated with an effective building decontamination strategy are pre- sented in the Safe Buildings Program Research Imple- mentation Plan: detection, containment, decontamina- tion, and disposal. The duration of the current program is insufficient to deal with all the tasks and goals presented in the Research Implementation Plan. AS specifically noted in the various findings and recommendations, the program time frame (scheduled to end at the end of fiscal year 2005) is too short to effectively accomplish all the goals set forth in the Research Implementation Plan. The proposed plan REVIEW OF EPA HOMELAND SECURITY EFFORTS covers an extensive area of new research, of which the scope and breadth is too large to accomplish in the allotted time frame. Given current resources and the extramural collaborations of EPA, it is unrealistic to expect results in all areas of proposed research in the . . . remaining time. The current effort should include a planning func- tion for a potential longer-term research program to address unmet needs in technical areas. The short time frame proposed in the Research Implementation Plan is an overarching concern; accordingly, the committee has made specific recom- mendations for tasks that can reasonably be completed in three years or less. One of these tasks should be the development of a coordinated program for a long-term research and development effort focusing on the agency's strengths. In some areas, the committee has provided guidance or recommendations for long-term research activities. In the short term, the program should focus almost exclusively on decontamination and disposal issues and other parts of the program should be subordi- nate to decontamination and disposal. EPA has expertise in the area of decontamination and disposal. The agency should focus the remaining time toward improving these aspects of its work. Activities in the remaining areas detection and con- tainment should technically support decontamination and disposal in a logical manner to achieve results within the prescribed time period of the program. The committee has made specific recommendations for these areas.
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