The U.S. EPA is “not fully prepared” to handle a large-scale nuclear, biological, chemical, or radiological attack on the country, according to an internal assessment by the agency. The report was commissioned by EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman in response to the attacks of Sept. 11 and strongly suggests that if those attacks had involved nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons, the agencies’ response teams would have been seriously overwhelmed. Among other findings, the report concluded that the EPA has limited authority to require action to redress environmental vulnerabilities; insufficient resources to respond to a nuclear or biological incident or one involving significant transportation system breakdowns; and an inadequate infrastructure for communicating quickly with small water utilities in the event of contamination.

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