Chapter 7 – Hazardous Waste: Extreme Measures in the Wake of a Crisis


The Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), also known as Superfund, establishes a legal regime to clean up sites where hazardous substances have been disposed and establishes liability provisions to cover clean-up costs. The National Contingency Plan (NCP) governs the clean-up process. Potentially responsible parties (PRPs)—current owners of the waste site, former owners, transporters of the waste, and those who arranged for the waste’s disposal—are liable for response costs to clean up the site as well as natural resource damages. The PRPs can be jointly and severally liable retroactively for clean-up costs. EPA ranks hazardous waste sites by potential human health effects and places the 150 highest ranking sites on the National Priority List (NPL). The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) creates a framework for appropriate waste handling, including hazardous wastes, and regulates both hazardous waste generators and treatment and disposal facilities (TSDFs).