Hazardous Waste

EPA's Consideration of Permanent Cleanup Remedies Gao ID: RCED-86-178BR July 7, 1986

In response to a congressional request, GAO: (1) reported on the extent to which the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has considered the use of treatment technologies that permanently destroy or detoxify wastes at the nation's worst hazardous waste sites; and (2) identified the barriers to the increased use of such technologies and EPA efforts to overcome them.

GAO found that: (1) in the first 5 years of its program to clean up hazardous waste sites, EPA selected permanent treatment technologies as remedies in 27 of the 121 targeted areas; (2) EPA did not choose these methods more often because it considered them too costly or ineffective; (3) EPA selected permanent treatment technologies more frequently each year the program operated, due to a revised cleanup policy in 1983 which encouraged more use of permanent treatments over land-based disposal options; (4) lengthy permitting procedures, which are required to ensure the safety and reliability of the new technologies, and community resistance are two of the barriers slowing EPA implementation of the permanent treatments; and (5) EPA has established a program to demonstrate and evaluate selected technologies to provide cost-effectiveness information and to enhance the development, demonstration, and commercial availability of innovative technologies as alternatives to the containment systems now in use.

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