Status of EPA's Remedial Cleanup Efforts

RCED-85-86: Published: Mar 20, 1985. Publicly Released: Apr 29, 1985.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reported on the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) progress in cleaning up the nation's worst hazardous waste sites during the first 4 years of the Superfund Program. The report focused on: (1) the extent to which EPA believes that the worst sites have been cleaned up under its remedial program; and (2) the status and funding of ongoing remedial actions.

GAO found that, as of December 31, 1984, EPA considered cleanup actions completed at 10 priority sites. These actions ranged from removing some or all of the wastes to containing wastes on-site. Of the 10 sites, 2 were cleaned up under the remedial program, 5 were cleaned up by the removal program, 2 were cleaned up by private parties, and 1 was cleaned up using Clean Water Act funds prior to the passage of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act. GAO found that: 38 percent of the priority sites had no cleanup action underway or planned; 44 percent of the sites were in the investigation or study phase; and 19 percent had cleanup action approved or underway. EPA considered cleanup action complete at the remaining four priority sites. In a detailed review of 58 sites approved for cleanup, GAO found that most of the sites involved planned actions which would only partially or temporarily resolve the problems. Additional cleanup activity was anticipated at these sites primarily because of the difficulties of decontaminating groundwater. EPA reported that Superfund obligations totalled about $353 million for remedial activities for the priority sites through December 31, 1984, and expenditures were about $106 million. The money for remedial action is fully obligated at the beginning of each project and is expended in increments as each step is completed.

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