Enacted on December 11, 1980, the “Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act” (CERCLA) established a tax on the chemical and petroleum industries and created a federal authority to handle releases and emissions of hazardous substances. According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s website, CERCLA establishes prohibitions and requirements concerning closed and abandoned hazardous waste sites; provides for liability of persons responsible for releases of hazardous waste at these sites; and establishes a trust fund to provide for cleanup when no responsible party can be identified. The CERCLA also authorizes two kinds of response actions: 1) short-term removals, where actions may be taken to address releases or threatened releases requiring prompt response; and 2) long-term remedial response actions, that permanently and significantly reduce the dangers associated with releases or threats of releases of hazardous substances that are serious, but not immediately life threatening.

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