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Federal officials here challenge NGA director over site rationale

From Illinois Business Journal news services

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Members of Illinois congressional delegation are wanting answers for what they say are factual inaccuracies that led to the St. Louis site recommendation for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.

In a meeting Thursday with NGA Director Robert Cardillo, the bipartisan, bicameral delegation representing Southwestern Illinois demanded to know how a number of facts were missed and risks underestimated in a report that served as the basis for determining North St. Louis as the preferred new site for NGA-West rather than St. Clair County.

At the conclusion of the meeting, U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk  and Reps. Mike Bost, John Shimkus and Rodney Davis released the following statement:

“The security assessment and the environmental impact are two of the most important criteria for this project. Our meeting today raised serious concerns that these elements were not properly studied. NGA-West is a facility with significant national security importance which demands more attention to detail than it has received. We told representatives from the Army Corps of Engineers today that they need to go back to the drawing board and submit an accurate Final Environmental Impact Statement which made significant mistakes in its original form. Making such a critical decision without accurate information is unacceptable.”

On April 1, the NGA announced that the Agency Preferred Alternative for the new NGA West Campus was the site in North St. Louis, and not the St. Clair County site next to Scott Air Force Base. Although the public comment period on this decision was initially just two weeks, on April 8, NGA Director Robert Cardillo extended the deadline through May 2 upon the request of the Illinois delegation members.

Last month, the members sent a letter to Cardillo requesting today’s meeting and raising strong concerns about the agency’s rationale for choosing a new site and suggested that the final decision may not have been based upon correct information.

Also attending the Thursday were St. Clair County Board Chairman Mark Kern, former U.S. Rep. Jerry Costello and representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

A recent letter from members of the group can be found here.

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