Superfund (CERCLA) Compliance Monitoring

A method the Superfund program uses to get Superfund sites cleaned up is by finding the companies or people responsible for contamination at a site, and negotiating with them to do the cleanup themselves, or to pay EPA or a third-party (states or other responsible parties). The Superfund law (officially the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA)) provides EPA with multiple authorities to ensure cleanup and payment for cleanup. 

Generally, EPA only enters into agreements regarding cleanup work at Superfund sites with potentially responsible parties (PRPs) that it believes will fulfill the terms of the agreement. EPA can also order parties to do cleanup work.

EPA oversees and monitors compliance with settlement agreements and orders issued under its various Superfund enforcement authorities to ensure that PRPs are meeting the terms of the agreements or orders. For example, if a party agrees to do certain cleanup activities, EPA will monitor that party's performance to be sure the cleanup activities are done timely and appropriately.

If a party is not complying with its obligations, EPA will decide what action to take to bring the party into compliance. Options typically range from issuing a warning letter to asking the Department of Justice to file a civil complaint asking for injunctive relief (have the court order the party to meet its obligations) and/or seeking penalties for non-compliance.

For cleanup work that relies in whole or in part on institutional controls, EPA seeks to hold PRPs responsible for the implementation and long-term maintenance of institutional controls. An institutional control is a non-engineering measure intended to affect human activities in such a way as to prevent or reduce exposure to hazardous substances. 

EPA also works with states, local governments, and other stakeholders to monitor compliance with institutional controls.

More information on the Superfund enforcement program.