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Zimmerman's Research Guide



The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980 (42 USC 9601 et. seq.) is known as the Superfund Law or "CERCLA." It makes all past and present owners of a polluted plot of land liable for the clean-up costs.

The EPA has a Superfund Information Line that provides information and publications on all things related to the Superfund program (800-424-9346).

The Superfund section of the EPA web site includes superfund-related publications and lets you look up hazardous waste sites, both classified and proposed. For more about hazardous waste sites, see the National Priority List section. To get information about a particular site, see the Record of Decisions, discussed below.

The Enforcement section of the EPA web site provides information about liability, negotiations, and settlements under CERCLA (Superfund), RCRA Corrective Action, OPA, and UST. More RCRA materials are available from RCRA Online.

Agreements: The main EPA guidance on Prospective Purchaser Agreements (as of 8/28/97) is published at 60 Fed. Reg. 34792. To get other/more recent guidance, check the Web, search the Federal Register or call the Superfund hotline.

PRPs: You can order a CD-ROM with the "responsible parties at Superfund sites that have received Special or General Notice letters from EPA," but in the past I have used Westlaw (EDR-NPLPRP) to get lists of Potentially Responsible Parties (PRPs). NOTE 1: The lists can be long, so you might want to print out just the first few pages describing the site and the page with the PRP you care about. NOTE 2: Lexis has a PRP database (ENVIRON;PRP), but it covered only 1998-2001 the last time I checked. NOTE 3: The Westlaw lists may not be comprehensive; I found the pre-2001 lists on Lexis sometimes have more PRPs than the lists on Westlaw. As for finding PRPs, the EPA's PRP Search Manual "provides guidance on how to search for potentially responsible parties (PRPs) that may be liable for cleanup at a Superfund site." This Contacts page lists contact information for the regional offices responsible for managing EPA's enforcement and compliance programs.

Records of Decisions (RODs): A Record of Decisions is the official public record of the EPA's approved remedy for each Superfund site. An ROD "provides the justification for the remedial action (treatment) chosen at a Superfund site. It also contains site history, site description, site characteristics, community participation, enforcement activities, past and present activities, contaminated media, the contaminants present, scope and role of response action and the remedy selected for cleanup" (from the RODs website).

The EPA's Record of Decision System (RODS) contains full-text Records of Decision (RODs), ROD Abstracts, ROD Amendments (AMDs) and Explanations of Significant Differences (ESDs). The database starts in 1982. The dabase is not quite current -- in September 2012 it had decisions issued up to November 2011.

You can also search RODs on Lexis (ENVIRN;RODS). The Lexis database also starts June 1982 and is also not quite current. As of September 2012, the Lexis database had decisions up to September 27, 2011.

Watch out: The Westlaw ROD database (EDR-ROD) covers only 1982 to 1995 and is not being updated. For RODs since 2006, search the FENV-EPA and, if you wish, add "and PR(superfund)" to limit the results to superfund documents, including RODs.

See Also
Environmental Law
Federal Register
United States Environmental Protection Agency

For comments, questions and suggestions, email the author
Copyright 2015 Andrew Zimmerman