Hazardous Waste:

Efforts to Address Problems at Federal Prisons

RCED-90-212: Published: Aug 30, 1990. Publicly Released: Nov 1, 1990.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information about the Bureau of Prisons' (BOP) efforts to resolve weaknesses in its management of hazardous materials and wastes, focusing on BOP: (1) assessment and cleanup of prison dump sites containing hazardous wastes; and (2) projects involving the removal or abatement of asbestos and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) from prison facilities.

GAO found that BOP: (1) established a program in fiscal year 1987 to assess and clean up hazardous wastes at its dump sites and targeted a cleanup completion date of September 30, 1992; (2) obligated $156,693 for assessments at four of the seven facilities it identified as having hazardous waste dump sites; (3) reported that major new construction projects and staff turnover have caused delays in assessments at the dump sites, but expected to award the remaining contracts by November 1990; (4) set aside about $16 million for cleanup, but did not plan to begin cleanup work until after completion of the assessments; (5) planned to continue to monitor dump sites after completion of cleanup; (6) obligated about $6.7 million for asbestos and PCB abatement and removal activities; (7) reported that it had removed or abated all known asbestos and PCB that posed health risks to staff and inmates, but could require additional abatement and removal work as it renovated older facilities; (8) obligated $38,447 for four other miscellaneous hazardous waste projects involving the removal of old chemicals, batteries, and other contaminants and the construction of short-term storage areas for currently generated hazardous wastes; and (9) did not always comply with Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations and BOP policies and procedures, primarily involving informational and recordkeeping requirements.

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