Hazardous Waste:

EPA Cleanup Requirements--DOD Versus Private Entities

NSIAD-89-144: Published: Jul 28, 1989. Publicly Released: Aug 29, 1989.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed whether the overlapping requirements of two environmental laws caused the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to have higher cleanup standards for Department of Defense (DOD) installations with hazardous waste sites than for private sites.

GAO found that: (1) DOD installations with both active and inactive hazardous waste sites could be subject to both laws, and were treated as a single hazardous waste site; (2) EPA required installations to develop inactive site cleanup plans before it issued waste storage permits; (3) most DOD installations with sites on the EPA National Priorities List also had active hazardous waste facilities, in which case DOD and EPA, and sometimes states, tried to negotiate an interagency agreement for a cleanup plan that considered both laws' requirements; (4) although cleanup standards were the same for DOD and private sites, site conditions and cleanup efforts frequently differed according to the type and amount of contaminant, future site uses, and potential contamination; (5) although DOD and EPA worked out a model agreement to use for developing specific agreements, they did not have similar procedures for resolving the laws' overlapping requirements; and (6) while EPA believed that the interagency agreements and its regulations resolved or minimized problems caused by the overlapping requirements, DOD cited different terminology and procedural requirements under both laws and the possibility that states could impose different requirements on military installations.

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