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Superfund

From Academic Kids

Checking the status of a cleanup site
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Checking the status of a cleanup site

Superfund is the common name for what is officially known as the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 9601 to 9675, which was enacted by the United States Congress on December 11, 1980 in response to the Love Canal disaster. This law created a tax on petroleum and chemical industries and provided broad Federal authority to respond directly to releases or threatened releases of hazardous substances that may endanger public health or the environment. Over five years, $1.6 billion was collected and the tax went to a trust fund for cleaning up abandoned or uncontrolled hazardous waste sites.

CERCLA established prohibitions and requirements concerning closed and abandoned hazardous waste sites, and:

  • provided for liability of persons responsible for releases of hazardous waste at these sites; and
  • established a trust fund to provide for cleanup when no responsible party could be identified.

The law authorizes two kinds of response actions:

  • Short-term removals, where actions may be taken to address releases or threatened releases requiring prompt response.
  • Long-term remedial response actions, that permanently and significantly reduce the dangers associated with releases or threats of releases of hazardous substances that are serious, but not immediately life threatening. These actions can be conducted only at sites listed on Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA), National Priorities List of Hazardous Substances (NPL), in the United States and territories.

CERCLA also enabled the revision of the National Contingency Plan (NCP). The NCP provided the guidelines and procedures needed to respond to releases and threatened releases of hazardous substances, pollutants, or contaminants. The NCP also established the National List of Priorities Sites.

CERCLA was amended by the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act, (SARA), on October 17, 1986, and is implemented by the Agency for Toxic Substance Disease Registry as well as the Department of Toxic Substance Control, and the Department of Justice among other state and federal branches of government.

The EPA lists 1604 sites as of May 2005, many of which have already been cleaned up.

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