Comprehensive, Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA)
In 1976 Congress passed the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), designed to manage disposal of wastes that were still being generated. However, abandoned waste sites were a concern as well.
In 1980, Congress passed the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), commonly called the "Superfund" Act, and began applying it to abandoned industrial sites. Under CERCLA, additional responsibilities and authorities were delegated to DoD. CERCLA set up the original "Superfund" funding for cleanups of hazardous waste sites. Sites eligible for cleanup using Superfund are listed by EPA on the National Priorities List (NPL).
In 1986, Congress passed the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA), which made changes to CERCLA. An important provision of SARA included federal facilities in the Superfund process. DoD set up the Defense Environmental Restoration Account (DERA) to fund studies and cleanups at military installations. Federal facilities are not eligible for Superfund cleanup funds, but are still subject to listing on the NPL.
National Priorities List and Federal Facility Agreement
In 2005, at the request of the Governor of Puerto Rico, EPA placed the former Navy facilities on Vieques on the National Priorities List (NPL or "Superfund"). Before being listed on the NPL, environmental sites were investigated and cleaned up under RCRA.
In 2007, a Federal Facility Agreement (FFA) was developed and signed by the Navy, EPA, Puerto Rico Environmental Quality Board, and U.S. Department of Interior (the parent agency of USFWS).
The purpose of the FFA is to:
- Ensure that environmental sites are thoroughly investigated and that the proper remedial actions are taken as necessary to protect the public and the environment.
- Establish the framework and schedule to develop, implement, and monitor appropriate response actions, according to Federal and Commonwealth law and regulations.
- Facilitate cooperation, exchange of information, and participation among the signing parties.
For more information about the FFA for Vieques, please visit the EPA website.
The CERCLA Process
The CERCLA process is a multi-step cleanup process that begins with site discovery or notification to EPA of possible releases of hazardous substances. Sites are discovered by various parties, including citizens, State agencies, and EPA Regional offices. Some sites may be cleaned up under other authorities. EPA then evaluates the potential for a release of hazardous substances from the site through these steps in the Superfund cleanup process. Community involvement, enforcement, and emergency response can occur at any time in the process. A wide variety of characterization, monitoring, and remediation technologies are used through the cleanup process. View a PDF showing the CERCLA process in English or Spanish.
For more information about CERCLA, visit EPA’s website at http://www.epa.gov/region02/vieques/ffa/