The nation's disaster relief agency broke federal contracting rules to purchase a radiation treatment course, and then scrapped it af- ter persistent objections that the material could endanger accident victims, a House committee reports.
The House Government Operations Committee unanimously approved the report, which contended the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) "demonstrated a lack of concern for the safety of the public" by purchasing the $90,000 course two months after a panel of federal scentific experts warned FEMA in August 1983 that it contained potentially life-threatening material. When the panel members continued their objections, the course "was withdrawn from pilot testing and put on the shelf, where it remains today, resulting in a waste of public funds," the report said.
FEMA officials had planned to send the course of slides and manuals around the country to teach "first responder" emergency personnel how to handle victims of radiation accidents. A FEMA spokesman said the agency has deleted the controversial material and now is using about 85 percent of the content in its emergency training program at the agency's Emmitsburg, Md. facility.
Bradford Communications Corp. of Greenbelt, Md. said it distributed the course to a number of communities, contending it is safe and effective.