Purpose

The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) (1992, 42 USC §§9601-9675), commonly referred to as the superfund, was enacted in 1980 in response to problems associated with hazardous waste disposal.19 Together with the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA) of 1986, the statute provides a multibillion dollar fund for

19. See Grad. 1982. A legislative history of the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability (Superfund) Act of 1980. J. Envtl. L. 8 Colum.: 1.

the remediation or cleaning up of hazardous waste sites. The superfund's resources, however, are limited and are not intended to be the primary financial source for covering the costs of cleanup. Rather, CERCLA's far-reaching liability scheme serves to impose the costs of cleanup on those responsible for the waste problem. It also serves as an incentive to prevent hazardous waste sites from becoming unmanageable.

By the late 1970s, the hazardous waste disposal problem was a great concern in the United States. Thousands of abandoned waste sites posed serious risks to public health and the environment. Several well-known environmental disasters—Love Canal and Valley of Drums— swayed public opinion and had a major influence on CERCLA's enactment.20

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