Hazardous Waste:

Impediments Have Delayed the Closing and Cleanup of Land Disposal Facilities

T-RCED-92-64: Published: May 28, 1992. Publicly Released: May 28, 1992.

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GAO discussed the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA): (1) progress in closing and issuing post-closure permits to hazardous waste disposal facilities; (2) inspection and enforcement efforts for ensuring compliance with closure and post-closure requirements; and (3) impediments delaying closure and issuance of permits. GAO noted that: (1) since fiscal year (FY) 1987, EPA has made little progress in closing the 837 land disposal facilities or issuing post-closure permits; (2) as of October 1991, 558 additional land disposal facilities were closing, but only 31 percent of the total 1,395 closing facilities had certified closure, and EPA had issued post-closure permits to only 11 percent; (3) EPA historically has assigned a lower priority to closing facilities, and was not aware of the relatively low number of land disposal facilities that had certified that closure was completed; (4) although inspection and enforcement are critical at closing facilities, EPA revised its inspection guidance by decreasing the number of required inspections, then eliminated the requirement for groundwater monitoring inspections; (5) other factors can contribute to delays in closing facilities and issuing post-closure permits, including the lack of incentives to install costly groundwater monitoring systems, properly cover disposal units, or maintain financial assurance that sites can be cared for; and (6) EPA has yet to fully assess which facilities will not properly close or to establish the best means to close those facilities.

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