Wednesday, September 30, 2009

GLC Reacts To EPA Inspector General AOC Report

Sep 30: U.S. EPA's Office of Inspector General (OIG) released a report in mid-September entitled, EPA Needs a Cohesive Plan to Clean Up the Great Lakes Areas of Concern (No. 09-P-0231, September 14, 2009) [See WIMS 9/15/09], evaluating the Agency’s management of contaminated sediment cleanups in the Great Lakes Areas of Concern (AOC). The report focuses on the effectiveness of the Great Lakes Legacy Act, established in 2002 to fund the cleanup of contaminated sediment sites in the 31 AOCs in the U.S. portion of the Great Lakes. The report indicated that the U.S. EPA lacks a coordinated approach for managing sediment cleanups and recommends that the agency establish a management plan for remediating contaminated sediments; develop an action plan for each site; and publish comprehensive information on each site annually.

The Great Lakes Commission (GLC) issued a reaction to the report and said it has long been concerned about the slow pace of progress in restoring the AOCs, but believes that changes to the Great Lakes Legacy Act, coupled with the proposed Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, will address many of the issues raised in the OIG report. The Commission believes that "improved coordination and data collection will strengthen the program, particularly as additional resources become available to implement sediment cleanups."

GLC said that, "President Obama’s proposed $475 million Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) will accelerate the pace of cleaning up the Great Lakes. Nearly one-third of the funding is proposed for removing contaminated sediments and restoring the AOCs." GLC indicated that, "While improved coordination and better information are always warranted, the key obstacle facing the Great Lakes has been the lack of adequate funding to implement a comprehensive restoration program. . . The program has facilitated productive federal-state-industry partnerships that are yielding real results while minimizing wasteful litigation and bureaucratic delays. Where additional improvements are needed . . .they should be incorporated into cleanups as they are developed and implemented. However, this should occur concurrent with -- and not delay the implementation of -- the GLRI."

Access a release from the GLC (
click here).