The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) was passed by Congress in 1980. Its purpose is to give Federal funding, a “Superfund”, to clean up uncontrolled or abandoned hazardous-waste sites. It also covers accidents, spills, and other emergency releases of pollutants and contaminants into the environment. With the passing of CERCLA, the EPA has the power to seek out the responsible parties, hold them accountable, and assure their cooperation in the cleanup.

Under the Superfund program, the EPA uses a hazard ranking system to calculate the level of seriousness and urgency to remediate the contaminated environment. A score is assessed ranging from 0 to 100 based on multiple criteria. A site that receives a mark of 28.5 or higher automatically places it on the National Priorities List, making it eligible for Superfund Trust Fund-financed remedial actions.

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