GAO discussed the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) efforts to foster new treatment technologies to clean up hazardous waste sites, focusing on: (1) innovative technologies that have been demonstrated, selected, or used for Superfund cleanup sites; and (2) EPA efforts to reduce barriers to the development and use of innovative technologies. GAO noted that: (1) EPA has planned 119 field demonstrations of innovative technologies and has completed 59; (2) the selection of innovative technologies for site cleanups has sharply increased since fiscal year 1986, but only 10 percent of cleanup actions have been completed; (3) one barrier to innovative technology development and use involved EPA failure to systematically assess site cleanup needs and match new technologies to specific site requirements, which EPA has attempted to correct by starting to assess its cleanup needs, and discussing technology needs with site-cleanup contractors; (4) contractors and investors were reluctant to use innovative technologies because cost and efficacy data were lacking, and although EPA has tried to assist in collecting and disseminating such data, substantive data are still limited; and (5) legal requirements, regulations, and agency policies discourage contractors from using innovative technologies, and EPA is working on lessening regulatory burdens and providing more facilities for test sites.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Environmental Protection Agency||1. To better focus cleanup technology development, the Administrator, EPA, should systematically determine site problems and technology needs for the cleanup of Superfund, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, and underground storage tank sites.|
|Environmental Protection Agency||2. To better focus cleanup technology development, the Administrator, EPA, should develop a plan that prioritizes cleanup and resulting research needs.|
|Environmental Protection Agency||3. To better focus cleanup technology development, the Administrator, EPA, should target solicitations to specific areas in need of technology development.|