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EPA's Region 6 Office

Serving: Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, and 66 Tribal Nations

About Superfund

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Years ago, people were less aware of how dumping chemical wastes might affect public health and the environment. On thousands of properties where such practices were intensive or continuous, the result was uncontrolled or abandoned hazardous waste sites, such as abandoned warehouses and landfills. Citizen concern over the extent of this problem led Congress to establish the Superfund Program in 1980 to locate, investigate, and clean up the worst sites nationwide. The EPA administers the Superfund program in cooperation with individual states and tribal governments. This section of the Web site provides an overview of the Superfund program, highlights key steps in the Superfund cleanup process, guides users to enforcement information, lists EPA's Superfund offices and partnership organizations, and provides answers to frequently asked questions.

The EPA Superfund cleanup process begins with site discovery or notification to the EPA of possible releases of hazardous substances. Sites are discovered by various parties, including citizens, State agencies and by Region 6 staff. Once discovered, we enter the site into our computerized inventory of potential hazardous substance release sites. This system is named the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Information System, or CERCLIS for short. We then evaluate the potential risk for a release of hazardous substances from the site through several steps in the Superfund cleanup process:

  • Preliminary Assessment/Site Inspection: we investigate site conditions
  • Hazard Ranking System scoring: a screening mechanism we use to place sites on the National Priorities List (NPL)
  • NPL Site Listing Process: our list of the most serious sites which may need a long-term cleanup
  • Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study: we determine the nature and extent of contamination
  • Record of Decision (ROD: we explain which cleanup alternatives will be used at NPL sites
  • Remedial Design/Remedial Action (RD/RA): we prepare and implement plans and specifications for applying site remedies
  • Construction Completion: we identify completion of cleanup activities
  • Post Construction Completion: we ensure that the Superfund response actions provide long-term protection of human health and the environment
  • Cost Recovery: we seek reimbursement for our costs from those responsible for the contamination.

We use these steps to determine and implement the appropriate response to threats posed by releases of hazardous substances. We address releases that require immediate or short-term response actions through the emergency response program of Superfund.We have made great strides in cleaning up sites across our five-state Region. But equally important is returning a site to productive use in the community. The Brownfields Program, Superfund Redevelopment Initiative and the Land Revitalization Initiative are mechanisms the EPA uses to empower states and local governments to return sites to productive use after the sites have been cleaned up.

You may find many of your questions about Superfund answered at the Superfund Frequently Asked Questions link. If your question is not answered there or you need additional information, please Contact Us.

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