Federal Records Management

Authority to Destroy Contaminated Records Constituting a Menace to Health, Life, or Property under Specific Conditions

This is generally referred to as emergency disposal of Federal records. NARA approval to destroy the contaminated records must be obtained prior to their destruction. 44 USC 3310 and 36 CFR 1229.10 state that when the Archivist and the head of the agency that has custody of them jointly determine that the records are a continuing menace to human health or life or to property, the Archivist shall eliminate the menace immediately by any method the Archivist considers necessary.

On behalf of the agency head, an authorized agency official such as a Senior Agency Official for Records Management (SAORM) or an Agency Records Officer (ARO) should promptly email records.management@nara.gov or call or email the appraisal archivist assigned to the agency.  The agency point of contact should provide NARA with specific information regarding the damaged records such as a description of the records, their location, quantity, the nature of the menace,  volume, dates (if known), specific office maintaining damaged records, statement of exact circumstances surrounding the damage to the records, and statement of the safeguards established to prevent loss of documentation. When appropriate include details of the actions taken to salvage, retrieve, or reconstruct the records. NARA will review the request and respond quickly to the agency.