20 April 2000 18:51 [Source: ICIS news]
WASHINGTON (CNI)--Congress is to investigate whether year-old Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reforms are speeding cleanup of 1700 hazardous waste sites by private firms, Senate sources said Thursday.
Republican Senators Bob Smith of New Hampshire and Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island also asked the General Accounting Office (GAO), the investigative arm of Congress, to assess the status of state and federal efforts to upgrade underground storage tanks, according to a staff member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.
In a joint letter to the GAO, the senators requested an update on the progress of EPA's "corrective action plan" under the Resource Conservation & Recovery Act (RCRA). Under this plan, the agency is trying to speed the cleanup of toxic contamination at 1712 facilities that generate, treat or dispose of hazardous waste - also known as RCRA sites.
Last July, EPA began implementing a series of administrative changes that were intended to streamline the cleanup process at RCRA sites. Smith and Chafee asked GAO to assess the impact of EPA's reforms and to identify barriers that still impede cost-effective cleanups.
Separately, the senators called on GAO examine ongoing federal and state efforts to make underground storage tanks less likely to leak. Congress needs a status report because leaking tanks are a major contributor to groundwater contamination by the gasoline additive methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE), Smith and Chafee noted.
In particular, they asked GAO to look into claims that recently installed storage tanks are already leaking because the new tanks are incompatible with old fittings. In addition, the report should describe federal and state enforcement efforts, according to the letter.
Smith is chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee; Chafee chairs the panel's Subcommittee on Superfund, Waste Control, and Risk Assessment.
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