How Do Sites Get On or Off the Superfund List?

Posted on 7/12/2016 by Scott Dunsmore

Superfund is the nickname for the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), the primary Federal law dealing with the identification and cleanup of hazardous substance disposal sites. Disposal site cleanup activity under Superfund is done in accordance with the National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan (NCP) at 40 CFR 300. One common Superfund question is about how sites get on and/or off the Superfund list. The following provides a short summary of the listing process for Superfund cleanup sites.

Preliminary Assessments

Potential sites for cleanup under CERCLA are collected in a national database by the EPA. A preliminary assessment and possibly a site investigation are conducted by the Agency.

The preliminary assessment (PA) involves gathering historical and other available information about site conditions to evaluate whether the site poses a threat to human health and the environment and/or whether further investigation is needed. The preliminary assessment also helps identify sites that may need immediate or short-term response actions.

The site investigation (SI) tests air, water, and soil at the site to determine what hazardous substances are present and whether they are being released to the environment and are a threat to human health.

Meet OSHA's annual HAZWOPER training requirement for professionals who work at "uncontrolled hazardous waste sites" with the new, $99 8 hour HAZWOPER Refresher Online Course.

Hazard Ranking

Information about the site that is collected in the PA/SI phase helps the EPA evaluate the risks posed by the site using its Hazard Ranking System (HRS). Some of these sites may be listed by the EPA on the National Priorities List (NPL). The NPL is a list of the most serious sites identified for long-term cleanup in the United States. The NPL is intended primarily to guide the EPA in determining which sites warrant further investigation and possibly cleanup (remedy) under CERCLA.

Sites may be added to the NPL if the release of the hazardous substance at the site:
  • Scores sufficiently high on the HRS;
  • Has been designated by a state as its highest priority; or
  • Triggers the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry to recommend people stay off the site, and the EPA determines the site poses a significant threat to the public.
The EPA first publishes a notice in the Federal Register proposing the addition of the site to the NPL. If, after the formal comment period, the site still qualifies for cleanup under Superfund, it is formally listed on the NPL. The Agency announces this action in the Federal Register as well. As of June 23, 2016, the EPA reported that there are 1,328 active sites on the NPL list, with an additional 55 sites currently proposed by the Agency to be added to the list.

Investigation and Study

Once a final decision has been made to list the disposal site on the NPL, the Agency begins the process of determining the appropriate remedy. This Record of Decision (ROD) follows the formal Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study (RI/FS) phase. The specific remedy must:
  • Adequately protect human health and the environment;
  • Attain Applicable or Relevant and Appropriate Regulations (ARARs);
  • Be cost effective; and
  • Utilize permanent solutions, treatment technologies, or resource recovery to the maximum extent possible.
All costs associated with the response to a Superfund site, from initial investigation through cleanup, can be assessed to any "responsible party" under CERCLA ยง107. These responsible parties may include the disposal site owners/operators, generators of hazardous substances disposed at the site, waste brokers, transporters, and others.

Cleanup and Deletion

After all the cleanup activity has been completed at the site and all cleanup goals have been achieved, the EPA publishes a notice of its intention to delete the site from the NPL in the Federal Register. This opens a period for public comment. If, after the formal comment period, the EPA feels that the site still qualifies for deletion, the Agency will publish a formal deletion notice in the Federal Register. A final deletion report is placed in the Information Repository for the site. Currently, the EPA reports that there are 391 sites that have been delisted from the NPL list.

OSHA HAZWOPER Training Requirements

Stay HAZWOPER ready with the new, 8 hour HAZWOPER Refresher Online Course. This new, interactive online course is designed to satisfy OSHA's annual training requirement for personnel at "uncontrolled hazardous waste sites" like Superfund sites and sites covered under RCRA [29 CFR 1910.120(a)(1)(i-iii).

Now that OSHA fines have skyrocketed 78%, effective training is crucial to make sure managers and employees know what it takes to maintain compliance with OSHA's complex HAZWOPER standards.

Tags: CERCLA, Superfund

Find a Post

Compliance Archives

Lion - Quotes

The instructor does a great job at presenting material in an approachable way. I have been able to save my company about $30,000 in the last year with what I have learned from Lion!

Curtis Ahonen

EHS&S Manager

The course was very well structured and covered the material in a clear, concise manner.

Ian Martinez

Hazmat Shipping Professional

Convenient; I can train when I want, where I want.

Barry Cook

Hazmat Shipping Professional

The instructor created a great learning environment.

Avinash Thummadi

CAD & Environmental Manager

I chose Lion's online webinar because it is simple, effective, and easily accessible.

Jeremy Bost

Environmental Health & Safety Technician

The instructor had knowledge of regulations and understanding of real-world situations. The presentation style was engaging and fostered a positive atmosphere for information sharing.

Linda Arlen

Safety & Environmental Compliance Officer

The exercises in the DOT hazardous materials management course are especially helpful in evaluating your understanding of course information.

Morgan Bliss

Principal Industrial Hygienist

Lion's information is very thorough and accurate. Presenter was very good.

Melissa Little

Regulatory Manager

Well designed and thorough program. Excellent summary of requirements with references. Inclusion of regulations in hard copy form, as well as full electronic with state pertinent regulations included is a great bonus!

Oscar Fisher

EHS Manager

Lion courses always set the bar for content, reference, and practical application. Membership and access to the experts is an added bonus.

John Brown, CSP

Director of Safety & Env Affairs

Download Our Latest Whitepaper

Explore ten hazardous waste management errors that caused generators in California the most trouble last year.

Latest Whitepaper

By submitting your phone number, you agree to receive recurring marketing and training text messages. Consent to receive text messages is not required for any purchases. Text STOP at any time to cancel. Message and data rates may apply. View our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.