Inland Oil Spills

Stronger Regulation and Enforcement Needed to Avoid Future Incidents Gao ID: RCED-89-65 February 22, 1989

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO assessed the adequacy of federal regulation of above-ground oil storage tanks and the federal inland oil spill removal program.

GAO found that the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) regulations did not require oil storage facility operators to: (1) construct and test tanks using industry standards; (2) prepare responses to accidental discharges of oil onto adjacent property; or (3) design and operate storm water drainage systems to prevent oil spills. GAO also found that: (1) EPA did not have information regarding the number, age, and location of oil storage facilities and the construction and operation of tanks; (2) the EPA inspection program did not prioritize inspections according to the threat posed to the environment, and inspections were sometimes superficial and poorly documented; (3) despite numerous oil spills and other violations, 7 of the 10 EPA regions have not levied fines; (4) EPA eliminated its spill response research program in 1987 because of budget constraints; and (5) EPA did not recover the costs of monitoring cleanups conducted by private parties, even though such costs were often substantial.


Our recommendations from this work are listed below with a Contact for more information. Status will change from "In process" to "Open," "Closed - implemented," or "Closed - not implemented" based on our follow up work.

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