Environmental Restoration Program
In 1980, Congress passed the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), which created the legal mechanism for cleaning up abandoned or uncontrolled hazardous waste sites. Initially, CERCLA (also known as Superfund) did not apply to military installations, but the Department of Defense (DoD) adopted its provisions as a model for their environmental cleanups. Although the DoD’s environmental restoration program generally followed a similar process, the actual steps were named differently. For example, the Navy initiated the environmental restoration process by conducting an Initial Assessment Study (IAS), which is equivalent to the Preliminary Assessment (PA) step under CERCLA.
In 1986, Congress passed the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA), which mandated that DoD follow the same cleanup regulations that apply to private entities. In other words, CERCLA now applied to military installations. SARA also established the Defense Environmental Restoration Program (DERP). Under the Navy Environmental Restoration Program (NERP), the Navy is responsible for identifying and cleaning-up their past contamination from hazardous substances, pollutants and contaminants at both Navy and Marine Corps installations in order to protect human health and the environment.
The Navy is the lead agency for these CERCLA sites, and works in partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and state regulators so that the contaminated installations are cleaned up while meeting all federal and state requirements. At Naval Station Great Lakes, the Navy works directly with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (Illinois EPA). USEPA Region 5 receives copies of documents prepared for the CERCLA-type sites.