What You Need to Know about CERCLA

What is CERCLA? Its full name is the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, and is commonly known as Superfund. It was created so the Federal government has broad authority to respond directly to releases or threatened releases of hazardous substances that could potentially endanger the environment or public health.

It was also created to provide tighter controls and regulations in response to questionable and potentially dangerous hazardous management practices that were prevalent in the 1970s. It’s funded by a tax on the chemical and petroleum industries.

The purpose of CERCLA is to identify sites where leakage, spillage or general mismanagement (or lack of compliant hazardous waste removal plan) of hazardous substances are posing a threat to the public or environment. Once these sites have been identified, the next step is to provide clean-up of these substances and hold the responsible individual or company accountable for the clean-up. These sites are frequently referred to as Superfund Sites. The fund is used to provide clean-up services when no responsible party can be identified.

CERCLA Authorizes 2 Response Actions

CERCLA provides authority for 2 different types of actions:

  1. Short-term removals, where releases or threatened releases require prompt responses.
  2. Long-term remedial action to permanently and significantly reduce the dangers of releases or threatened release of hazardous waste substances that are serious, but not immediately life threatening.

These actions are only able to be carried out at sites that are listed on the EPA’s National Priorities List (NPL).  These actions apply to listed hazardous materials and substances, contaminants and pollutants except oil and gas. CERCLA generally tries to identify the individuals or organizations responsible for the mistreatment of the hazardous waste substances before taking actions on its own.

CERCLA powers and responsibilities do overlap those of the Resource Conversation and Recovery Act (RCRA), the Clean Water Act, and the Safe Drinking Water Act.

CERCLA and RCRA both have jurisdiction with respect to hazardous materials and underground storage tanks containing petroleum products. The types of waste that are controlled are outlined by CERCLA, and the protocol and guidelines for these tanks are outlined by amendments to RCRA.

CERCLA’s goal is to promote strong accountability, community involvement and long-term protectiveness.

If you are looking for help for hazardous or non-hazardous waste removal, disposal or transport, please contact HWH Environmental at 1-877-777-6708.

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