Coast Guard:

Additional Efforts Needed to Clean Up Hazardous Waste Sites

RCED-90-164: Published: Jul 6, 1990. Publicly Released: Aug 6, 1990.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the Coast Guard's progress in carrying out its statutory environmental responsibilities.

GAO found that: (1) since 1987, the Coast Guard has identified many additional potential hazardous waste locations; (2) the Coast Guard estimated that of the 20 locations requiring cleanup, relatively minor action at 16 locations will cost about $1.1 million; (3) the Coast Guard has begun cleaning up hazardous waste at two locations, and is investigating the other two locations to determine the types and levels of contaminants that are present; (4) the Coast Guard is responsible for paying its portion of the investigation and cleanup costs for sites that are primarily public and private landfills; (5) the Coast Guard believes its past and current appropriated funding levels, averaging $6.8 million annually, are adequate for hazardous waste cleanup activities and compliance with environmental laws; (6) the Coast Guard's field commands are not reporting information to the headquarters program office on environmental violations at its facilities that handle waste; (7) the Coast Guard and other federal agencies are responsible for ensuring that their facilities comply with environmental pollution control laws and for ensuring that they request sufficient funds for compliance; and (8) despite the reporting requirements, complete information on violations and the costs incurred in correcting them was unavailable because field offices failed to report most relevant data on environmental violations and related costs.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Coast Guard issued a notice instructing field commands to report information on environmental violations at agency facilities. The agency's field commands were instructed to provide the information as soon as possible after being cited for an environmental violation.

    Recommendation: To improve the information available to the Coast Guard to evaluate its compliance with environmental laws, estimate environmental funding needs, and provide meaningful progress reports to Congress required by Public Law 101-225, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the Commandant, U.S. Coast Guard, to take follow-up action to ensure that field commands comply with the recently issued notice requiring that information on environmental violations and the related costs of correcting the violations are reported to Coast Guard headquarters.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

 

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