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Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA)

The comprehensive environmental response, compensation and liability act that was passed in 1980, and created the superfund to help pay for cleanup 

Past and present property owners are liable for cleanup. Anyone who contributed to the problem must share the cost of cleanup.

Commonly known as Superfund, was enacted by Congress on December 11, 1980. This law created a tax on the chemical and petroleum 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.

The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA):

  • established prohibitions and requirements concerning closed and abandoned hazardous waste sites;
  • 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 EPA’s.
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