The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), commonly known as Superfund, was enacted by Congress on December 11, 1980, and amended by the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA) on October 17, 1986. This law provides federal authority to respond directly to releases or threatened releases of hazardous substances that may endanger public health or the environment.
The law authorizes two kinds of response actions:
Removal Actions (short-term)
Removal actions immediately abate, prevent, minimize, stabilize, mitigate, or eliminate a release or threatened release that may pose a threat to public health or welfare of the environment.
Remedial Actions (long-term)
Remedial actions significantly reduce the dangers associated with releases of hazardous substances that are serious—but not immediately life threatening; provide a more permanent solution to hazardous substance threats; and generally involve a more extensive study and action period. These actions can only be conducted at sites listed on the U.S. EPA’s National Priority List (NPL).
Long-term remediation may be coupled with short-term removal to aid in the remediation process.
Overview of Superfund Process