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CERCLA, referred to as "Superfund," was passed in 1980 to fill a gap in the nation's environmental laws (highlighted by Love Canal, NY).

CERCLA established a $1.6 billion trust fund for 5 years to fund:

  • removal actions (short-term responses);
  • remedial actions (long-term responses); and
  • legal enforcement and cost-recovery actions.

CERCLA responses are limited to actual or threatened releases of "hazardous substances" and to actual or threatened releases of "pollutants or contaminants" that "may present an imminent and substantial danger to the public health or welfare." This "Superfund" was originally funded through taxes, but is a revolving fund. CERCLA provides that the government can recover response cost from responsible parties and use these funds for additional response.

CERCLA also requires the establishment of a National Priorities List (NPL) : "a list of the releases of hazardous substances that present the greatest threats to human health and the environment."

For more information on CERCLA check out the CERCLA Overview.

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