Financial assurance is used by owners and operators who are obligated to treat, store, or dispose of regulated hazardous waste and pay for closure, post-closure care and corrective action costs (typically environmental cleanup). The EPA has the authority to provide taxpayer funded resources or use enforcement if the responsible party defaults or is unable to fund cleanup obligations.
However, according to the report, “The EPA does not include and verify all self-insured environmental cleanup liabilities when evaluating requests for and reviewing corporate self-insurance.” This is a high-risk issue because if self-insurance is not valid, the effectiveness of the cleanup is undermined, resulting in longer human and environmental exposures to unsafe substances, and taxpayers could “be left with billions of dollars in cleanup costs.”
The report notes that there were “$1.6 billion in estimated costs for sites…having expired financial assurance and $207 million for sites…having no financial assurance.”
EPA Self-Insurance Risks for Environmental Cleanups