Superfund:

More Emphasis Needed on Risk Reduction

T-RCED-96-168: Published: May 8, 1996. Publicly Released: May 8, 1996.

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GAO discussed the Superfund Program's effectiveness. GAO noted that: (1) the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has not adequately emphasized risk reduction in site selection or cleanup schedules; (2) EPA regional offices have used other factors besides risk reduction to select sites or prioritize cleanups; (3) EPA has too often inappropriately assumed that contaminated sites' future uses will include residential purposes, which substantially increases cleanup costs; (4) Superfund costs could be reduced by as much as $1.7 billion over the program's life if EPA used its less costly accelerated cleanup procedures; (5) health hazards would also be reduced with accelerated procedures; (6) statutory cost and time limitations on removal actions and an inflexible funding arrangement limit EPA use of non-time-critical removals; and (7) in 1995, EPA initiated procedural and organizational changes to include better risk and land-use assessments and community involvement in the program, but it is too soon to tell if the changes will result in permanent program improvements.

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