Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), Commonly Called Superfund, is Signed into Law

Superfund is the common name for the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA), a United States federal law designed to clean up abandoned hazardous waste sites.

Superfund created the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), and it provides broad federal authority to clean up releases or threatened releases of hazardous substances that may endanger public health or the environment. The law authorized the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to identify parties responsible for contamination of sites and compel the parties to clean up the sites. Where responsible parties cannot be found, the Agency is authorized to clean up sites itself, using a special trust fund.

The country has waited a long time for the Superfund law dealing with chemical poisons in the environment. What we have now is, in my judgment, the major preventative health law passed by the Congress in the past four years.

Together with the other members of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, I worked on this legislation for nearly three years. I will not say that it was a labor of love, because the process was trying. We were beset with problems at nearly every turn.