EPA Could Do More to Reduce Responsible Parties' Legal Expenses
T-RCED-93-73: Published: Sep 28, 1993. Publicly Released: Sep 28, 1993.
GAO discussed possible ways to reduce the costs of resolving liability for hazardous waste cleanup in the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Superfund program, focusing on EPA use of: (1) de minimis settlements for parties that contribute comparatively small amounts of low-toxicity waste; (2) nonbinding allocations of responsibility (NBAR) for clean-up costs; (3) mixed-funding agreements between EPA and parties to share clean-up costs; and (4) neutral third-parties to help resolve liability and cost allocation problems. GAO noted that: (1) EPA has completed de minimis settlements at only 69 sites, prepared NBAR at 5 sites, used mixed-funding arrangements at 16 sites, and employed alternative dispute resolution techniques at 30 sites; (2) EPA has been concerned with getting as many responsible party-financed cleanups under way as quickly as possible; (3) EPA use of settlement tools has been difficult to implement; (4) EPA has begun to give settlement tools a higher priority due to widespread complaints about high transaction costs; (5) EPA current settlement efforts involve mostly pilot projects; and (6) expanded use of one of these tools could be expensive and complicate settlement negotiations.