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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) progress in completing closures and issuing post-closure permits at hazardous waste disposal facilities.

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Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Environmental Protection Agency 1. To minimize and control contamination at closing land disposal facilities, the Administrator, EPA, should establish targets in its Strategic Targeted Activities for Results System for completing closure of land disposal facilities.
Closed - Implemented
While EPA disagreed that targets or goals should be established, it is taking steps to improve its tracking of closure completions in end-year reports required of its regions and in its monthly report on permit activities.
Environmental Protection Agency 2. To ensure that its new approach for evaluating the environmental threat posed by facilities and for deciding which facilities to act on first for permits and corrective action achieves its intended goals, EPA should closely monitor the regions' and states' implementation of the new approach to ensure consistent interpretation and application.
Closed - Implemented
EPA has established beginning- and end-of-year reports to monitor regional prioritization decisions and specifically asked regions to document and justify how they determined the environmental priority for facilities.
Environmental Protection Agency 3. As part of its monitoring, EPA should assess the need for further guidelines to define how the criteria of environmental significance, environmental benefits, and other considerations are to be weighed relative to each other in establishing the overall priority for which facilities should receive permits and corrective action.
Closed - Implemented
EPA has made clear in its fiscal year 1993 and 1994 guidance that the "environmental significance" criterion is the primary basis to be used in ranking the environmental priority of facilities and that lesser weight is to be given to the criteria of "environmental benefits" and "other considerations."

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