Hazardous Waste

Much Work Remains to Accelerate Facility Cleanups Gao ID: RCED-93-15 January 19, 1993

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can force businesses with hazardous waste operations to clean up waste that has contaminated the environment. About 3,400 facilities are suspected of leaking dangerous material, but, as of June 1992, only 43 had implemented comprehensive cleanup measures. This report examines (1) the status of EPA's corrective action process and (2) the funding that has been made available for the corrective action program and the usefulness of the data used to determine overall costs.

GAO found that: (1) of the 3,400 facilities suspected of releasing contaminants into the environment, 860 have begun formal corrective action investigations and 43 have started comprehensive cleanups; (2) reasons for delays in contamination cleanup included limited resources, inadequate personnel, problems in defining the nature, extent, and complexity of the contamination, and determining what corrective actions were needed; (3) in fiscal year (FY) 1992, EPA was successful in assessing 875 facilities and ranking over 2,100 facilities, but lacked adequate information on the total number of remaining facilities that needed additional assessment work and ranking; (4) EPA planned to increase facility stabilization actions at a limited number of the highest priority facilities, but did not have an adequate way of measuring when stabilization was achieved; (5) budgeted funds for corrective actions decreased from $65.6 million in FY 1992 to $59.9 million in FY 1993; (6) EPA failure to maintain comprehensive regional or state corrective action budget data and outdated pricing factors limited its ability to set goals and communicate long-term budgeting needs; and (7) EPA has made limited progress in adopting methods for increasing corrective action reserves such as requiring owners to reimburse it for oversight expenses, collecting a hazardous waste user fee, moving contract resources to staff salaries, and using existing state cleanup programs instead of federal funds.


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.

Director: Team: Phone:

The Justia Government Accountability Office site republishes public reports retrieved from the U.S. GAO These reports should not be considered official, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Justia.