A congressional study says the Superfund program remains a hazardous waste "merry-go-round" posing long-term problems for the nation despite improvements ordered by Congress in 1986.

Dangerous chemicals that should be destroyed are instead still being shifted from one waste dump to another or covered with caps that could allow toxics to leak into water supplies, according to the congressional Office of Technology Assessment.

That is the major finding from an ongoing OTA review of the 1986 law Congress passed to strengthen the Environmental Protection Agency's frequently criticized Superfund cleanup efforts.

"Superfund is not working," Joel Hirschhorn, a senior associate of the congressional Office of Technology Assessment, told the House Public Works oversight and investigations subcommittee on Wednesday. "Public expectations are not being met by the current (cleanup) program."