"Twenty-four research and assessment projects that have national and global interest were potentially affected by erroneous information" from a USGS geochemistry laboratory that had a “chronic pattern of scientific misconduct” where “data produced by the Inorganic Section were intentionally manipulated by the line-chemist in charge" including for "assessment of uranium in the environment in and around Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona for possible groundwater restoration." [Right, USGS report published in 2010 on hydrology of uranium in northern Arizona that could be be called into question over potentially doctored data]
These are the findings of an investigation by the Inspector General of the U.S. Dept. of Interior, dated June 15, 2016, following an inspection of a "scientific integrity incident involving the Inorganic Section of the U.S. Geological Survey's (USGS) Energy Geochemistry Laboratory in Lakewood, Colorado."
Once the results of the inquiry became known, USGS closed the Inorganic Section, effective February 25, 2016. "USGS accused the chemist of data manipulation by intentionally changing the results produced by the mass spectrometer."
According to the report, the matter was discovered in late 2014, but had been taking place since 2008. This covers the time period when the Secretary of Interior was conducting a review of impacts of potential mineral exploration and development, particularly of uranium, in northern Arizona. As a result of the federal studies, the Secretary placed a 20-year moratorium on exploration and mining on nearly 1 million acres of federal lands in the region [Left. Source, US BLM]
The fraudulent data could bring into question the scientific justification of the land withdrawal, and the current political effort to establish a 1.8 million acre national monument in the region specifically to protect the area from impacts on water from uranium mining.
The IG's report also added that they "noted that USGS has taken a long time to inform its many stakeholders about this scientific integrity incident. To date, only the direct lab customers as well as selected scientist collaborators and related journals have been notified. Considering that the incident was discovered in October 2014 and that its serious nature became apparent shortly thereafter, USGS has had ample
time to make a public announcement. Many organizations rely on USGS publications and could potentially make decisions or policy based on flawed information."
Ref: Scientific Integrity Incident at USGS Energy Geochemistry Laboratory, Report 2016-EAU-010, Office of the Inspector General, U.S. Department of the Interior, 15p, June 2016.
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