Responsible Party Clean Up Efforts Require Improved Oversight
RCED-86-123: Published: May 6, 1986. Publicly Released: May 6, 1986.
- Full Report:
In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed cleanup activities at priority hazardous waste sites, specifically: (1) the number, estimated value, and purpose of settlement agreements between the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and responsible parties; and (2) how well EPA is overseeing responsible-party compliance with the settlement terms.
GAO found that: (1) approximately half of the settlements were for long-term site cleanup activities, and cleanup work was valued at $417 million; (2) the purpose of the settlement agreements was to ensure that responsible parties either performed cleanup activities at hazardous waste sites or reimbursed the government for cleanup at the sites; and (3) no formal guidelines or procedures exist for project managers to oversee settlement activities and enforce decisions, causing delays in identifying and resolving problems.
Recommendation for Executive Action
Status: Closed - Implemented
Comments: EPA is taking steps to improve responsible party oversight. Site-by-site contractor support has been provided and a comprehensive system has been developed to track Superfund enforcement information. A longer term effort is underway to develop an oversight guidance manual. Staff turnover has delayed completion of these efforts.
Recommendation: To adequately ensure that responsible parties comply with settlement conditions and cleanup goals, the Administrator, EPA, should strengthen the EPA settlement oversight function by providing project managers with: (1) guidance and procedures on work-load management, how to organize, prioritize, and perform duties and responsibilities, and how to use quality assurance reviews; and (2) procedures and standards for oversight recordkeeping and reporting, determining settlement noncompliance, and taking appropriate enforcement actions.
Agency Affected: Environmental Protection Agency