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42 U.S.C. §9601 et seq. (1980)

The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act — otherwise known as CERCLA or Superfund — provides a Federal “Superfund” to clean up uncontrolled or abandoned hazardous-waste sites as well as accidents, spills, and other emergency releases of pollutants and contaminants into the environment. Through CERCLA, EPA was given power to seek out those parties responsible for any release and assure their cooperation in the cleanup.

EPA cleans up orphan sites when potentially responsible parties cannot be identified or located, or when they fail to act. Through various enforcement tools, EPA obtains private party cleanup through orders, consent decrees, and other small party settlements. EPA also recovers costs from financially viable individuals and companies once a response action has been completed.

EPA is authorized to implement the Act in all 50 states and U.S. territories. Superfund site identification, monitoring, and response activities in states are coordinated through the state environmental protection or waste management agencies.

The Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA) of 1986 reauthorized CERCLA to continue cleanup activities around the country. Several site-specific amendments, definitions clarifications, and technical requirements were added to the legislation, including additional enforcement authorities. Also, Title III of SARA authorized the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA).

Compliance and Enforcement

History of this Act

Superfund: National Priorities List (NPL)

The National Priorities List (NPL) is the list of sites of national priority among the known releases or threatened releases of hazardous substances, pollutants, or contaminants throughout the United States and its territories. The NPL is intended primarily to guide the EPA in determining which sites warrant further investigation.

  • New Proposed NPL Sites & New NPL Sites – Documents for the most recently proposed NPL sites and recently added NPL sites, including: Documentation Records, Site Listing Narratives, Support Documents and other supporting documentation.
  • View a map of all the sites in the U.S., currently on the NPL,  proposed to the NPL and deleted from the NPL.

The following table shows the number of Federal and general sites for each status and milestone as of November 08, 2019:

Status Non-Federal (General) Federal Total
Proposed NPL Sites 48 3 51
NPL Sites 1178 157 1335
Deleted NPL Sites 407 17 424
Milestone Non-Federal (General) Federal Total
NPL Sites with Partial Deletions 60 21 81*
NPL Sites with Construction Completions 1131 80 1211**

Superfund Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study (Site Characterization)

After a site is listed on the National Priorities List (NPL), a remedial investigation/feasibility study (RI/FS) is performed at the site.

The remedial investigation (RI) serves as the mechanism for collecting data to characterize site conditions, determine the nature of the waste, assess risk to human health and the environment, and conduct treatability testing to evaluate the potential performance and cost of the treatment technologies that are being considered. The feasibility study (FS) is the mechanism for the development, screening, and detailed evaluation of alternative remedial actions.

The RI and FS are conducted concurrently – data collected in the RI influence the development of remedial alternatives in the FS, which in turn affect the data needs and scope of treatability studies and additional field investigations. This phased approach encourages the continual scoping of the site characterization effort, which minimizes the collection of unnecessary data and maximizes data quality.

Superfund Site Reuse/Redevelopment

EPA’s goal is to make sure that at every cleanup site, the Agency and its partners have an effective process and the necessary tools and information needed to fully explore future uses, before the cleanup remedy is implemented. This gives the Agency the best chance of making its remedies consistent with the likely future use of a site. In turn, EPA gives communities the best opportunity to productively use sites following cleanup.

Learn about Superfund redevelopment where EPA works with communities and other partners to help return hazardous waste sites to safe and productive use without adversely affecting the remedy.


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