Natural Resources and Environment:

Time and Cost Limits on Superfund Removals

RCED-96-195R: Published: Jun 10, 1996. Publicly Released: Jun 26, 1996.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on whether: (1) changes to the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act's time and cost limits would ease constraints on non-time-critical removals; and (2) the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) believes that limits on non-time-critical removal actions are necessary or appropriate. GAO noted that: (1) most non-time-critical removals are conducted within 3 years and cost $5 million or less; (2) EPA believes that raising the time and dollar limits on non-time-critical removals would improve the cleanup process by reducing the number of limit waivers needed for non-time-critical removals; (3) EPA headquarters and regional managers do not agree on whether the time limits should be raised to 2 or 3 years and cost limits raised to $4 million or $5 million; and (4) EPA headquarters staff believe that the limits ensure that excessive time and money are not expended on non-time-critical removals, while regional managers believe that the limits are arbitrary or bureaucratic requirements that have little justification.

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