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Frequently Asked Questions

The drive toward a faster, fairer, more efficient Superfund

Select from the links below to view answers to the following questions about the Superfund Reforms program.

NOTE: For additional information on unfamiliar terms referenced on this Web site, please consult the Superfund Reforms glossary.

How did the Superfund Reforms come about?
How many reforms are designed to fundamentally change the program?
How have the Superfund Reforms changed the Superfund program?
How do the Superfund Reforms affect the average citizen?
Will there be another round of the Superfund Reforms?
What office at EPA is responsible for the Superfund Reforms?
Some of these terms are unfamiliar. Can I get more information on them?
Which, if any, reforms have not been successful and why?
Can I provide EPA with feedback on individual reforms?


How did the Superfund Reforms come about?

EPA began promoting administrative changes to improve the Superfund program in 1989 by publishing the "90-Day Study," that focused on concerns such as enforcement, expediting cleanup response, and encouraging community participation. In June 1991, EPA convened a 30-day task force whose work culminated in initiatives to:
  • Set aggressive cleanup targets;
  • Streamline the Superfund process;
  • Elevate site specific issues that cause delay;
  • Accelerate private party cleanups;
  • Refocus the debate on Superfund progress; and
  • Review risk assessment/risk management policies.
Both the "90-Day Study" and the "30-Day Study" provided the framework for the first set of Superfund administrative improvements. Round 1, announced in June 1993, established nine new initiatives that were designed to:
  • Increase enforcement fairness and reduce transaction costs;
  • Improve cleanup effectiveness and consistency;
  • Expand meaningful public involvement; and
  • Enhance the State role in the Superfund program.
In addition, EPA adopted eight continuing initiatives from the 90- and 30-day studies that were designed to improve the overall efficiency, effectiveness, and fairness of the Superfund program.

To obtain more detailed information regarding the initiation of the Superfund Reforms, you may wish to download some of the reports and summary sheets from the General Reforms Documents section of the Documents page.


How many reforms are designed to fundamentally change the program?

EPA designed almost half of the reforms to fundamentally alter the Superfund program, instead of merely improving it. These reforms have allowed EPA to delete clean parcels from the NPL, initiate PRP search pilots, offer extensive orphan share compensation, and make other fundamental changes to the program.


How have the Superfund Reforms changed the Superfund program?

The Superfund program is fundamentally different as a result of the reforms. Since 1993, when EPA announced the first round of reforms, the program has changed in response to stakeholders' concerns. Through the commitment of EPA, State and Tribal site managers, other federal agencies, private sector representatives, and involved communities, EPA has achieved real results in protecting public health and the environment while experimenting with and instituting changes to the cleanup process. EPA's cleanups address real threats to public health and the environment and, where possible, return sites to productive reuse. The reforms are now integrated into the base program, resulting in a faster, fairer, and more efficient Superfund. Some indicators of the Superfund Reforms success include the following [as of 9/01]:
  • Increased the pace of cleanup and completed cleanup construction at 804 sites on the National Priorities List (NPL);
  • Announced the selection of 399 Brownfields Assessment Pilots, each funded at up to $200,000 over two years;
  • Removed over 24,700 small contributors from the liability system;
  • Signed more than 170 Prospective Purchaser Agreements;
  • Evaluated and archived over 32,719 sites from CERCLIS, the national inventory of hazardous waste sites.



How do the Superfund Reforms affect the average citizen?

The reforms benefit citizens who live near Superfund sites by expediting cleanups, increasing community involvement in cleanup decisions, and bringing increased economic benefits to communities, both during cleanup and afterwards. The reforms also benefit all citizens by forcing those responsible for pollution to pay for cleanup, reducing the amount of taxpayers' money spent on cleanups. Finally, the reforms help ensure that all citizens can enjoy a safe environment without unnecessary costs.

For more information about the Superfund program and how you can get involved, visit the Superfund Concerned Citizens page.


Will there be another round of the Superfund Reforms?

No, EPA will not issue a fourth round of reforms. Instead, the Agency will focus on the reform initiatives of the existing three rounds.


What office at EPA is responsible for the Superfund Reforms?

Responsibility for the Superfund Reforms is shared between the Office of Superfund Remediation Technology Innovation (OSRTI), which is a division of the Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response (OSWER), and the Office of Site Remediation Enforcement (OSRE), which is a division of the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA)


Some of these terms are unfamiliar. Can I get more information on them?

Yes. Please refer to the Superfund Reforms glossary for definitions of key terms.


Which, if any, reforms have not been successful and why?

All reforms have achieved a measure of success. Each reform has served to heighten awareness of a potential problem and most introduced new policies and guidance or tools that have advanced the cause of a faster, fairer, and more efficient Superfund program. Indemnification protection under Reform 2-9b, "Risk Sharing, Identifying Obstacles," has never been requested. EPA believes that the availability of commercial insurance is a likely reason. Also, activities under Reform 2-7a, "Training/Health Assistance to Communities," were curtailed at the request of Congress.


Can I provide EPA with feedback on individual reforms?

Yes, EPA welcomes your input. Each reform has at least one identified EPA contact (see Contacts by Reform page) that you can reach by mail, phone, or e-mail.

Alternatively, you can submit comments on a specific reform, on the overall reforms initiative, or on the usefulness of this website with the Comments form. For more questions and answers about Superfund in general, see the Superfund Frequent Questions page.

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