CERCLA (Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act)

On December 11th, 1980 the United States Congress enacted the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act as a way to clean up sites that are or could be potentially hazardous to the environment or to the public. CERCLA allows the EPA to identify hazardous sites and then warn the public of the possible exposure that may result from being around dangerous areas. The law gives the EPA the authority to: identify person(s) or group(s) and deem them liable for the release of hazardous material, to establish protocols in dealing with abandoned or closed hazardous waste sites, and to set up a “Superfund” which helps to collect tax money that is then used to clean up a hazardous waste site. CERCLA administers responses both through removal actions, which consist of removing the hazardous material, or through remedial actions, which deal with reducing or eliminating potential releases of hazardous material.

Contributed by Brandon Farnsworth
Course: Modern Global Environmental History
Instructor: Dr. Wilko Graf von Hardenberg
University of Wisconsin–Madison, US