EPA's Expenditures to Clean Up the Bunker Hill Superfund Site

GAO-01-431R: Published: Mar 28, 2001. Publicly Released: Mar 28, 2001.

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David G. Wood
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In 1995, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the state of Idaho signed an agreement to clean up a mining area known as Bunker Hill. The agreement estimated that the total cost of the cleanup would be $126 million, with the state's share capped at $12.6 million. This correspondence focuses on (1) EPA's actual expenditures for cleanup activities and how these expenditures differ from the estimate set forth in the agreement and (2) the reasons for any major differences between actual and estimated cleanup expenditures. As of September 30, 2000, EPA had spent about $212 million on various cleanup and management support activities within the Bunker Hill Superfund site. About $101 million of the expenditures was for cleanup-related activities not covered by the EPA/state agreement and therefore not included in the 1995 cost estimate. These activities included the study and design of cleanup activities, emergency removals of contaminated materials, enforcement of responsible party cleanup activities, and indirect management support. The remaining $111 million was used for cleanup work covered by this agreement. EPA and the state of Idaho expect that the cleanup work covered by the agreement will be completed by about the end of 2002 at a projected final cost of about $140 million. EPA also expects that the agreement will be modified to cover the future costs of improving the site's existing water treatment plant, estimated to range from $16 million to $33 million. For situations in which contractors were hired to do the cleanup work, the projected final costs range from $4.7 million less to $6.1 million more than the amounts originally estimated. The $4.7 million cost savings occurred as a result of improved contractor performance in response to contractual incentives. Cost increases resulted primarily from (1) higher-than-anticipated quantities of contaminated materials requiring removal, (2) greater handling of materials to dry them before disposal, and (3) floods that recontaminated areas that had already been cleaned.

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