GAO Report Released: Hazardous Waste Cleanup: Observations on States' Role, Liabilities at DOD and Hardrock Mining Sites, and Litigation Issues
Recently, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report, titled Hazardous Waste Cleanup: Observations on States' Role, Liabilities at DOD and Hardrock Mining Sites, and Litigation Issues GAO-13-633T (May 22, 2013). The details of the 24-page report, available here, are discussed below:
Why GAO Did This Study
According to EPA, the agency that manages the nation's principal hazardous waste cleanup program, one in four Americans lives within 3 miles of a hazardous waste site. Many such sites pose health and other risks, and their cleanup can be lengthy and expensive. EPA's Superfund program, established under [Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act ] CERCLA, provides a process to address contaminated sites. Under CERCLA, parties that contributed to the contamination of a site are generally liable for cleanup and related costs. These parties may include federal agencies, such as DOD, and companies. Based on the risk a site poses, EPA may place the site on the [National Priorities List] NPL, a list that includes some of the nation's most seriously contaminated sites. As of April 2013, the NPL included about 1,300 sites, and states and federal agencies may address additional contaminated sites outside of EPA's Superfund program. GAO's prior work has identified challenges cleaning up DOD's NPL sites and abandoned mining sites and has assessed litigation related to the Superfund program.
In this testimony, GAO summarizes its work from March 2008 to April 2013 on (1) the role of states in cleaning up hazardous waste sites, (2) DOD's management of its sites on the NPL, (3) federal liabilities from contaminated hardrock mining sites, and (4) litigation under CERCLA and other statutes.
GAO is not making new recommendations but has made numerous recommendations to DOD, EPA, and Interior to better address hazardous waste sites. As described in this statement, the responses to these recommendations have varied.
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