The EPA has been reluctant to reallocate staff in its Superfund toxic waste cleanup program among regions, resulting in staffing levels that do not reflect current workloads, an IG report has said.
The program’s full-time equivalent distribution has change little in 30 years because management “believes redistribution would cause a disruption of work and there is general management unwillingness to redistribute FTEs,” it said.
As a result, six of 10 regions have had to prioritize work and have slowed down, discontinued or not started cleanup work due to a lack of FTEs, it said. “Some sites where work has slowed down or been discontinued do not have human exposure under control or groundwater migration under control. Other impacts include loss of subsistence fishing and continued contamination with chemicals such as lead and mercury,” it said.
The report suggested that EPA follow the model of other federal organizations involved in site cleanups, such as the Army Corps of Engineers, that align their FTE distributions based on a national risk-based prioritization structure.