Superfund is the environmental program established to address abandoned hazardous waste sites. It is also the name of the fund established by the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980, as amended (CERCLA). It allows the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to clean up hazardous waste sites and to compel responsible parties to perform cleanups or reimburse the government for EPA-lead cleanups.
The common contaminants found at Superfund sites are asbestos, mercury, lead and radiation. The CERCLA Priority List of Hazardous Substances contain a list of the top 20 hazardous substances.
The Superfund’s long term cleanup process involves the steps taken to assess sites, place them on the National Priorities List, and establish and implement appropriate cleanup plans. In addition, EPA has the authority
-to conduct removal actions where immediate action needs to be taken;
-to enforce against potentially responsible parties;
-to ensure community involvement;
-and ensure long-term protectiveness.
The Superfund program is in accordance with the National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan (NCP), a regulation applicable to all federal agencies involved in responding to hazardous substance releases.
The EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response (OSWER) in Washington, D.C. supervises the Superfund program. The Office of Emergency Management within OSWER is responsible for short term responses conducted under the authority of Superfund. The Office of Superfund Remediation and Technology Innovation, and the Federal Facilities Response and Reuse Office, also within OSWER, manage the long-term Superfund response program. EPA’s 10 Regional offices around the nation are responsible for implementing many of EPA’s programs, including the Superfund.