Information on Operations and Maintenance Activities and Costs

T-RCED-95-201: Published: May 23, 1995. Publicly Released: May 23, 1995.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed Superfund operations and maintenance (O&M) activities and costs, focusing on the: (1) extent to which O&M activities are necessary at National Priority List sites; (2) projected costs of O&M activities; and (3) Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) actions to ensure that sites requiring O&M continue to protect human health and the environment. GAO noted that: (1) O&M activities and costs are directly determined by the cleanup approach used at the sites; (2) long-term actions are necessary as a result of the cleanup remedy chosen for 62 percent of the sites reviewed; (3) O&M actions for these sites include controlling erosion and operating groundwater treatment systems and may continue indefinitely; (4) O&M costs could total $33 billion to $41 billion nationwide over the next four decades and O&M costs average $12 million per cleanup; (5) EPA has concentrated on evaluating and cleaning up hazardous sites rather than essential health and environmental monitoring; and (6) EPA has not completed more than 120 required reviews of Superfund sites, and is not aware of worsening conditions at many sites.

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