Status of Natural Resource Damage Claims

T-RCED-95-239: Published: Jun 30, 1995. Publicly Released: Jun 30, 1995.

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GAO discussed natural resources damage claim settlements under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). GAO noted that: (1) as of April 1995, federal agencies had settled 98 natural resource damage claims for an estimated total of $106 million, with most cases requiring no payments or payments of less than $200,000; (2) the value of these settlements is small compared to Superfund cleanup agreements, but some outstanding claims involve hundreds of millions of dollars; (3) 4 of the 9 states contacted had independently settled 17 CERCLA claims for $129.4 million; (4) state CERCLA actions vary considerably; (5) although federal and state officials cannot predict the number or value of future damage claim settlements, they have identified 3 damage settlements that could exceed $500 million; and (6) an uncertain number of federal facilities may be subject to large damage claims which could severely impact the federal budget.

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