Natural Resources and Environment:

The Condition of Information on Hazardous Waste

Published: Sep 24, 1986. Publicly Released: Sep 24, 1986.

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GAO discussed whether hazardous waste storage, treatment, and disposal capacity will be available to meet future waste production levels. GAO focused on studies that estimated national hazardous waste volume and capacity, specifically national studies and national-sectoral studies. GAO found that national-level estimates: (1) were based on different definitions of hazardous waste; (2) were methodologically diverse and included different limitations; and (3) did not represent a consensual estimate on the current volume of waste produced nationally. GAO also found that: (1) there was little information on total waste management capacity; (2) the most current data were inconsistent for specific time periods; (3) three studies used the definition of hazardous waste differently; (4) national-sectoral studies provided data and information about hazardous waste that were narrowly scoped or at lower-than-national levels; and (5) the studies reviewed did not provide consistent information concerning the volume of hazardous waste generated by location. GAO concluded that although four current, national estimates of hazardous waste reached similar numerical estimates, they could not reinforce each other given their differing qualitative bases, statistical precision, and approaches to definition and measurement.

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