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Superfund / CERCLA (1980)
Kelsey Kenrick

  • The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), or the Superfund act, was implemented on December 11, 1980 as a program in the U.S.A. with the purpose to control and manage the cleanup of hazardous wastes sites. These sites include many dumps or landfills,old industrial plants and refineries, abandoned mines and smelters, and federal military or nuclear sites.
  • The Superfund program was created by the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980
  • Superfund does not deal with currently operating solid waste landfills or active industries but only with closed or abandoned sites.
  • Under the “polluter pays” principle, the government takes legal action to get the former owners and users of the site to do the cleanup themselves or to pay for it. If the responsible parties cannot be identified or are now bankrupt, the costs are paid from a “Superfund” created by a tax on manufacturers of petroleum and chemicals.
  • Sponsors of a strong Superfund bill included former vice president Al Gore but after two million dollars in campaign contributions, the chemical companies succeeded in greatly weakening the legislation.
  • The original bill created a $1.6 billion fund with no liability placed on the chemical companies for private citizens to sue for property and personal damage due to the dumps or spills. Owners and operators of disposal sites and producers or transporters of hazardous wastes were made liable for up to $50 million in cleanup costs.
  • On October 17, 1986, the CERCLA was amended and became the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA) which reflected the needs of The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) based on their past experience with the program.

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Superfund Sites; Green = Cleaned, Yellow = Proposed sites, Red = Official sites

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References:
http://biology.kenyon.edu/slonc/bio3/2001projects/Superfundkdanis/historylovecanal.html
http://www.sfaa.net/eap/lovecanel.pdf
http://www.epa.gov/superfund/policy/cercla.htm