Monday, March 7, 2011

Superfund: Information on the Nature and Costs of Cleanup Activities at Three Landfills in the Gulf Coast Region -- GAO

This Government Accountability Office report (GAO-11-287R Superfund Landfill Cleanup Costs), dated February 18, 2011, finds that one in four Americans lives within 3 miles of a contaminated site, many of which pose serious risks to human health and the environment. The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA) provided the federal government with authority to respond to releases or threatened releases of hazardous substances and created a trust fund to provide for certain cleanup activities.

Under CERCLA, EPA established the Superfund program to address the threats that contaminated sites pose. Although EPA has paid for the cleanup of many of these sites through the Superfund program, funding for these cleanups has diminished in recent years.

In 2010, the GAO reported that EPA’s estimated costs to clean up existing contaminated sites exceed the Superfund program’s current funding levels and that some sites have not received sufficient funding for cleanup to proceed in the most cost-efficient manner. Additionally, in July 2009, the GAO reported that EPA does not collect sufficient information on the cost of cleanup activities at Superfund sites and recommended, among other things, that EPA assess and improve the data it collects on the status and cost of cleanups.

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