Environmental Protection:

Selected Issues Related to EPA's Fiscal Year 1997 Appropriation

T-RCED-96-164: Published: May 1, 1996. Publicly Released: May 1, 1996.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) leaking underground storage tank program. GAO noted that: (1) about 20 percent of over 2 million tanks nationwide have leaks or are leaking; (2) releases have been confirmed in 303,000 leaking tanks, and EPA expects this number to rise as owners and operators upgrade their tanks to current standards; (3) cleanups are complete for approximately 43 percent of the tanks with confirmed releases; (4) since 1987, EPA has distributed about $500 million in program funds to states to assist tank owners with cleanup costs; (5) 44 states have established financial assurance funds for owners and operators of underground storage tanks; (6) over the next several years, EPA plans to reduce its role in the tank storage program because it believes that releases will largely be cleaned up, states will be more capable of assisting tank owners and operators, and older tanks will be upgraded to current standards; (7) from 1994-1995, EPA recovered $330 million in excess funds obligated for inactive Superfund contracts and made them available for other Superfund projects; and (8) EPA could recover an additional $164 million in Superfund contract funds because the funds for these projects either were unused or have expired.

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