Superfund De Minimis Settlements

T-RCED-88-46: Published: Jun 20, 1988. Publicly Released: Jun 20, 1988.

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GAO discussed the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) implementation of the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act of 1986 focusing on EPA de minimis settlement activities at two Superfund sites. GAO noted that the de minimis settlements involve parties that have caused a relatively small share of the pollution at the nation's worst hazardous waste sites. GAO found that EPA: (1) reached de minimis settlements at only 8 of the 799 Superfund sites nationwide; (2) did not reach settlements at the two specified sites because of a lack of reliable information on estimated cleanup costs and the large number of parties involved, and the low priority it gave to settlement; (3) failed to establish specific guidance for compliance with settlement requirements at the regional level; and (4) planned to develop a national strategy to streamline and promote de minimis settlements. GAO believes that EPA could allocate more staff resources and set specific targets for de minimis settlements, but would need to ensure that such actions would not have a detrimental effect on other Superfund activities.

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