Toxic Substances:

EPA Has Made Limited Progress in Identifying PCB Users

RCED-88-127: Published: Apr 15, 1988. Publicly Released: May 3, 1988.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO examined the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) efforts to identify and select facilities which handle, use, or dispose of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB).

GAO found that EPA: (1) believes that, of an estimated 700,000 to 750,000 PCB facilities, 30 facilities are disposal companies, over 100 are handlers, and the rest are users; (2) identifies potential PCB facilities by determining the kinds of facilities and activities that use equipment containing PCB; (3) headquarters provides only limited information to assist regional offices in developing lists of potential PCB facilities for inspection; (4) regional offices rely on public directories to select facilities for PCB compliance inspection; and (5) subsequently inspects a large number of non-PCB facilities. GAO also found that EPA identified priority industries for allocation of its inspection resources and plans to: (1) focus its inspections on PCB disposers and handlers, since they handle the largest amounts of PCB; (2) propose a regulation requiring PCB facilities to report their activities and use an identification number for tracking purposes; (3) identify potential PCB users and handlers from the records of three major PCB incinerators; and (4) identify the types of PCB facilities which present the greatest health risks and concentrate its inspection resources in the most important areas.

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