Current Progress and Issues Needing Further Attention

T-RCED-92-56: Published: Jun 11, 1992. Publicly Released: Jun 11, 1992.

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GAO discussed the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Superfund Program. GAO noted that: (1) the cost and scope of Superfund have greatly exceeded initial projections of $1.6 billion for the cleanup of 406 hazardous waste sites in 1980 to $40 billion for 1,275 sites, with a projected increase of 700 sites needing attention by 2000; (2) the program has taken more than 2,800 emergency actions, sometimes at non-Superfund sites, to address immediate, serious site threats; (3) EPA has improved its enforcement of laws to make responsible parties clean up contaminated sites or pay for government-funded cleanups; (4) administrative and support costs account for 41 percent of Superfund appropriations; (5) Superfund contract management controls and oversight do not adequately provide for cost control, contractor review, or protection against program abuses and waste; (6) the pace of Superfund cleanups is sluggish due to the lengthy site study and remedy evaluation process; (7) with increased emphasis on faster and more cost-efficient cleanups, EPA will need to ensure the effectiveness and integrity of site cleanups; and (8) the lack of solid information on the health and environmental dangers posed by Superfund sites makes it difficult to assess the risks and determine the most effective use of the scarce resources available for environmental protection.

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