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Asbestos was used for decades in construction and shipbuilding. If you or someone close to you has worked as a drywaller, pipefitter, or in the Navy, you may have been exposed to harmful asbestos fibers. Learn more >

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Asbestos Lawyer

Cleaning Up Hazardous Substances – The Federal Superfund Program

In December 1980, Congress passed the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, also known as the CERCLA Act. This law was created in response to several toxic waste dump sites which had been discovered in the 1970s, such as the infamous Love Canal.

The CERCLA Act consisted of several main provisions. First, it defined regulations and restrictions regarding toxic waste sites. Second, it allowed the federal government to hold responsible parties liable for their role in releasing toxic waste. This meant that the Environment Protection Agency could force liable companies to pay for the cleanup of the toxic waste sites they left behind. Third, it set up a massive trust fund to finance government cleanup of sites when the responsible party or parties could not be identified. This trust fund was paid for by a new tax instituted by CERCLA on the petroleum and chemical industries – a further incentive for companies to operate responsibly. In the first five years, this new “Superfund” collected $1.6 billion. A subsequent amendment to CERCLA expanded the Superfund to contain some $8.5 billion.

The “Superfund” program, as CERCLA came to be commonly known, oversees the handling, disposal, and cleanup of toxic waste sites. The program is managed by the Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response (OSWER) at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Superfund responses to toxic waste sites are split into two types: short-term and long-term.

Short-term responses are undertaken when a site is deemed extremely and immediately hazardous to public health or the environment. They are directed by a sub-office of OSWER called the Office of Emergency Management. Several factors are taken into consideration when identifying a site for emergency removal, such as weather conditions, the risks posed by people, and the condition of the site or facility.

Long-term responses are the ‘trademark’ of the Superfund program. In many cases, a toxic waste site must be thoroughly examined and analyzed before cleanup can begin. For these operations, a time frame of months or years is expected. Well over a thousand sites in the US are currently undergoing long-term cleanup. These responses are overseen by the Office of Superfund Remediation and Technology Innovation.

One of the toxic substances which Superfund responds to is asbestos, a mineral fiber valued in many industries for its heat-resistance and durability, but which has also been linked to lung cancer and mesothelioma.

If you have been exposed to asbestos and have developed health problems as a result, you deserve compensation from those responsible. To explore your legal options, call 800-781-3955 for a free initial consultation with one of the experienced mesothelioma lawyers from Williams Hart today.

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