To explore the feasibility of a revised approach to the preliminary assessment of hazardous-waste sites, we provide an estimate (Table 2-4) of the cost of EPA's preremedial engineering and exposure assessments (the preliminary assessment and site inspection) in combination with ATSDR's preremedial health assessment (the preliminary health assessment).

This revised preliminary assessment includes both the preliminary engineering studies (physical characteristics of the site, estimates of contamination, and feasibility of remediation strategies) and the preliminary health assessment. Nevertheless, applying the full revised preliminary assessment (PA, SI + PHA) at all currently listed CERCLIS sites would cost $1.824 billion. Spread over a five-year period, this would come to approximately $365 million per year, or one-third of the total FY91 Superfund budget. Because many sites will require only the EPA PA and the ATSDR PHA, this in fact is an overestimate of the actual costs of applying such an approach. If the EPA and ATSDR functions are maintained separately, $165 million per year would be allocated to the ATSDR budget for health assessments, a substantial increase from the ATSDR FY89 budget of $15.8 million. Savings could be realized by reorganizing the assessment process to directly incorporate health assessments—and staff with health expertise—into the management and implementation of preliminary assessments.


We know enough about some exposures at some sites—chiefly from ATSDR's assessments of those sites on the NPL—to suggest the potential benefit of further epidemiologic studies at these and other sites. A site discovery program and a revised preliminary site assessment would identify sites for such studies, as well as for the purposes of public health protection, and would provide the basis for a significantly expanded national program of environmental epidemiology. Some of the necessary support and related components for an

TABLE 2-4 Revised Prelimary Assessment: Estimated Costs


Preliminary Assessment (PA) and Site Inspection (SI)



Preliminary Health Assessment (PHA)





32,000 CERCLIS sites × $57,000/site = $1824 billion

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