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Superfund Listening Session - Recommendation 22 Part 2: Using First Look Provisions in CERCLA Settlements

Date of Event: June 4, 2019, 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

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SFTF Recommendation No. 22: Explore Environmental Liability Transfer (ELT) Approaches and Related Financial Risk Management Tools at PRP Cleanups (Goal 3/Strategy 1)

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Overview of Session Topic and Issues

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) encourages the cleanup and productive reuse of contaminated properties by addressing Superfund liability concerns and by using site-specific enforcement tools, consistent with EPA’s statutory obligations. The use of a “look first” provision in a Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) settlement agreement involving potentially responsible parties (PRPs) and third parties assuming environmental cleanup obligations is an example of one such tool. Under the “look first” approach, the federal government agrees to initially seek cleanup measures from the third party assuming the cleanup obligations before pursuing the settling PRP(s) for noncompliance, providing a degree of certainty to the PRPs in the settlement.

This listening session will highlight and raise awareness of past uses of “look first” provisions in CERCLA settlements involving environmental response transfer arrangements. It will also seek input from stakeholders on this settlement approach to both further inform and facilitate the use of “look first” provisions in future settlements, where appropriate and in support of EPA’s goals for the Superfund program.

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Who Should Attend

  • Private party representatives (attorneys and consultants) involved with the implementation of Superfund response actions
  • Real estate investment consultants and investors
  • Community groups and non-profit organizations, including environmental justice groups, interested in effective Superfund cleanups and site revitalization
  • EPA, DOJ, and state employees involved with negotiating CERCLA cleanup settlements
  • EPA and state employees who work on contaminated site reuse issues that could involve CERCLA

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Questions to session participants for verbal and written remarks:

The Agency would like participants of this listening session to focus their remarks on the following questions and topics:

  1. Do you know of past instances in which a “look first” provision would have facilitated cleanup and redevelopment of a site?
  2. What kind of sites or settlement agreements are particularly amenable to the “look first” approach?
  3. What factors make a “look first” provision more, or less, useful at a site?
  4. Based on your experience, should EPA encourage the use of “look first” provisions as a tool to facilitate Superfund cleanups, and if so, how.

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  • Greg Wall (OECA/Office of Site Remediation Enforcement/Regional Support Division)
  • Erik Hanselman (OECA/OSRE/Policy and Program Evaluation Division)

Information and links to relevant information related to the listening session:

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Contact Information

For additional information on this listening session, contact the Office of Site Remediation Enforcement (OSRE) via email at

Visit Listening Sessions - Superfund Task Force Recommendations Web page for more information on of the SFTF listening sessions.

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